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Rachael Gully English 2 – Assignment 1 110149873

Assignment 1 – Case Study

Insights into challenges

A student who has recently arrived to Australia and has English as an additional language or
dialect (EAL/D) may find themselves facing a range of challenges within the English and
literature strands of the Australian curriculum. This is largely due to their lack of English
literacy skills and is often reflected in both their written and oral communication (Liu 2010;
Winch et. al 2014). Winch et. al (2014, p. 43) describes EAL/D students as not only having
the challenge of learning a new language, but then being able to learn in it as well. This is
particularly challenging for those students who have arrived to Australia without age
appropriate schooling and are now behind in developmental skills and knowledge (Miller &
Windle 2010). De Courcy et. Al. (2012) discusses an important and relevant insight,
explaining that quite often for EAL/D learners; the challenge is not reading words but
comprehending them. Winch et. al (2014, p. 45) and Henderson (2004) agree, and they
discuss the importance of using oral communication as a literacy experience and using the
connections they have with their home language to identify strengths within their language

Most EAL/D students experience stereotypes based on their language, culture or

background. The label has become a stigma and believed to be an image of a student who
lacks knowledge of the literacy abilities needed to perform well academically (Liu 2010, p.
26). This is why EAL/D student’s backgrounds and abilities are an essential aspect of
culturally responsive pedagogy, which allows the opportunities for personal stories and
experiences to be included and valued (Winch et. al. 2014, p. 643; Liu 2010, p. 28).

Colton (2017) describes the common occurrence of oral traditions in EAL/D student’s home
language, with the passing down of stories through generations. Children are often seen
engaging in extended vocabulary within their oral communication of stories, but are not
competent in the written components of literacy (Colton 2017). This is often a challenge as
students may be able to express their ideas orally but struggle to express them in written
form (De Courcy et. al. 2012). On the opposite end of the scale, speech is not free in all
countries and sometimes language is used for negative purposes (Winch et. al. 2014, p.
Rachael Gully English 2 – Assignment 1 110149873

641). This can prove to be a challenge for these EAL/D students when engaging in Australian
culture and using oral language as a part of group discussions.

Focusing on the ACE Literature strand

A year four EAL/D learner engaging with the Literature strand of the Australian curriculum is
likely to face both challenges and opportunities within each area. Creating and
understanding literature for example, is largely challenging for these students as it usually
takes around 5 – 6 years to become comfortable with written material (Winch et. Al. 2014,
p. 44). EAL/D learners are likely to be challenged by the content descriptor ‘Create literary
texts by developing storylines, characters and settings (ACARA 2017, ACELT1794)’ as the lack
of English vocabulary and metalanguage often leads to difficulty in sequencing and
composing texts (ACARA 2014). These students may also struggle to ‘Understand, interpret
and experiment with a range of devices and deliberate word play in poetry and other
literary texts, for example nonsense words, spoonerisms, neologisms and puns (ACARA
2017, ACELT1606)’. This is largely due to the nature of including unusual and nonsense
words which may not yet be a part of their vocabulary (Colton 2017; Molyneux 2009). This
does however, provide the opportunity for EAL/D students to become free from the
restraints of normal sentence and grammatical structure (Winch et. al. 2014, p. 645),
allowing for creativity and experimentation with the English vocabulary (ACARA 2014;
Winch et. al. 2014). Similarly, students may be challenged when ‘Discussing literary
experiences with others, sharing responses and expressing a point of view (ACARA 2017,
ACELT1603)’. This is often due to a lack of confidence in oral language, resulting from
inexperience in pronunciation of sounds, using tone, pitch and pace appropriately (Hyde et.
al. 2014; Winch et. al. 2014). Having low confidence levels is likely to result in the child being
shy and withdrawn during class conversation as it protects them from ridicule and
humiliation (Hyde et. al. 2014; Liu 2010, p. 37; Molyneux 2009).

Inclusive literacy teaching

Within any classroom setting, it is important to ensure all children feel a sense of
community and belonging (Naqvi & Pfitscher 2011). All children, especially students with
EAL/D benefit from having their culture brought into the classroom in a way that enables
Rachael Gully English 2 – Assignment 1 110149873

them to feel comfortable (Winch et. al. 2014, p. 45 & Boyd et. al. 2015); and as Winch et. al.
(2014 p. 639) describes, offers a sense of home-ness. This can be achieved through posters
or displays around the room showing different languages, or through books and other
literature. When choosing literature, it is important to carefully select books that are rich in
ethnic, cultural and linguistic themes (Boyd et. al. 2015). Boyd et. al. (2015) presents a trap
that a lot of teachers fall into, which is caused by having only one book from each culture.
This can be dangerous as it often leads to assumptions and stereotypes. Naqvi and Pfitscher
(2011) discuss the significance of duel literacy books being valued in the school setting, as
this then allows EAL/D students to understand and see the relevance of their own language
knowledge in the classroom. Winch et. al. (2014, p. 640) then adds that when reading
stories to the class it is important for teachers to tell the story rather than simply reading it.

Having literature throughout the classroom that shows the multiple voices, individual lives
and perspectives from around the world (Boyd et. al. 2014) helps EAL/D students to see that
their home language does not need to disappear because they are living in a country where
English is the dominant language. EAL/D learners often struggle to recognise the benefits of
being multilingual (Colton 2017), which is where teachers can use literature to build
student’s pride in their culture, use their home language as a valuable resource and in turn
see their language as an asset rather than a lability (De Courcy et. al. 2012; Liu 2010, p. 28).

Inclusive strategies for literature teaching

There are many strategies for teaching literature to EAL/D students; however these vary
according to the abilities and challenges of each child. The incorporation of multimodal
strategies are particularly useful for opening up the possibilities for participation without
the limit of language barriers (Edmiston 2007). These multimodal avenues of producing
work can include drama, music, technology, illustrations, poems and other creative methods
that provide an imaginative leap and provoke discussion (Edmistn 2007; Winch et. Al. 2014,
p. 644). All of these methods have the ability to be produced in a child’s own home language
if desired (Henderson 2004), while also developing English language (Henderson 2004).

Having multiple methods for producing work within the literacy strand will assists EAL/D
learners to focus on their own strengths (Henderson 2004) and how they wish to present
their work. This is a beneficial strategy for success in outcome ACELT1794 (Appendix 1) of
Rachael Gully English 2 – Assignment 1 110149873

the Australian Curriculum (ACARA 2017), as students create literacy texts in a range of
methods rather than being assessed only on the ability to provide a written response (De
Courcy et. Al. 2012; Miller & Windle 2010). Winch et. Al. (2014, p. 643) describes the use of
multimodal presentation methods as being an opportunity for creativity, as well as allowing
EAL/D students to include aspects of their personal lives and culture into their learning.

A good teacher helps students learn by using their culture to understand examples and feel
included within literature (Liu 2010, p. 28). Children are experts in their own life (Winch et.
Al. 2014, p. 644) and this should be encouraged through personal story. Not only will this
build confidence (Winch et. Al. 2014, p. 644), but will also enable EAL/D children to
understand the importance of their bilingualism and learn to appreciate their history and
culture (Molyneux 2009; Cahnmann et. Al. 2008).

Liu (2010, p. 27) states that successful strategies incorporating cultural backgrounds into the
classroom provides better outcomes in English and literacy learning for EAL/D students. This
can be achieved through telling a story in another language (Liu 2010), inviting children to
share examples from their home country (Winch et. Al. 2014), displaying cultural word walls
(De Courcy et. Al. 2012) and selecting high quality, culturally diverse literature (Boyd et. Al.

Boyd et. Al. (2015) communicates the fact that children are vulnerable to the stories they
read and will often feel as though they need to write similarly to those themes. This limits
imagination and personal culture expression, which is why it is so important to have a text
rich classroom that not only includes cultural books but also other forms of visual language
varieties around the room (Miller & Windle 2010).

Books and literacies in both English and EAL/D student’s original language are a great
strategy to use as the children are then able to recognise their own language and use it to
make meaning of English text (Winch et. Al. 2014, p. 640).

Oral language is the joint process of listening and talking, while making meaning of spoken
texts (Winch et. Al. 2014, p.42). Therefore it is often hard for EAL/D learners to respond
quickly in oral form without having the time to process and understand the words they have
heard. Similarly, EAL/D students are often more confident in their home language than in
Rachael Gully English 2 – Assignment 1 110149873

oral English, which causes them to be less vocal during class discussions (Liu 2010, p. 31),
causing issues in regards to sharing and expressing literacy experiences with others (ACARA
2017, ACELT1603) (Appendix 3).

Teachers need to be thoughtful and systematic in planning English activities and discussions,
keeping in mind the learning of key vocabulary for EAL/D students, to ensure they are being
scaffolded appropriately according to their development (De Courcy et. Al. 2012). Teaching
children to play with language in an advanced way is challenging and will require them to
have a wide vocabulary (ACARA 2014). This is an important consideration when looking at
outcome ACELT1606 (Appendix 2) of the Australian Curriculum (ACARA 2017), in regards to
using unusual and nonsense words within poetry. While this may provide an opportunity for
EAL/D learners to engage in creative writing and step outside the restraints of normal
sentence structure (Winch et. Al. 2014, p. 645), it can also cause confusion. EAL/D learners
may not have had exposure to the metalanguage and use of spoonerisms, neologisms and
puns in the English language (ACARA 2014). Strategies such as unpacking the meanings of
certain words initially or allowing EAL/D students to write in their first language can be used
when attempting this content descriptor.

Future challenges

I have learnt that our challenge as teachers is to ensure the classroom is an environment
which opens up possibilities for success and inclusion rather than closing them down
(Edmiston 2007, p. 341). I find this to be a challenging, yet important aspect of classroom
pedagogy which I will now be extremely mindful of, especially regarding EAL/D learners.

With the goal of becoming an inclusive literacy educator, I will be faced with the challenge
of ensuring high expectations are set for all students (Miller & Windle 2010) and a sense of
pride in being bilingual is achieved (Molyneux 2009; Liu 2010). I am aware that technology is
rapidly changing our exposure to English (Colton 2017) and although there are still not
enough books being published that step outside of while culture (Boyd et. Al. 2015) my
challenge now is to search the internet for extra literature resources that are culturally
Rachael Gully English 2 – Assignment 1 110149873

Overall, this new information and learning has provided me with some insight in regards to
students with EAL/D in the classroom; however I am still feeling uneasy as I have not yet had
any experience with children who are recent arrivals to the country.
Rachael Gully English 2 – Assignment 1 110149873


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 2014, English as an

additional language or dialect teacher resource: Annotated Content Descriptions, English
Foundation to Year 10, pp. 34 – 39, viewed 22 August 2017, accessed

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 2017, Foundation to

year 10 curriculum: English, Year 4, Literature, (ACELT1794), viewed 22 August 2017.

Boyd, F, Causey, L & Galda, L 2015, Culturally diverse literature: Enriching variety in an era of
Common Core State Standards. The Reading Teacher, vol. 68, no. 5, pp. 379-387.

Cahnmann-Taylor, M & Preston, D 2008, 'what bilingual poets can do: Re-visioning English
education for biliteracy', English in education, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 234-252.

Colton, J 2017, Studies in English Education 2 EDUC3062, lecture recording 14 August 2017,
University of South Australia, viewed 17 August 2017,
b4e6-7bd1135ce714 >.

De Courcy, M, Dooley, K, Jackson, R, Miller, J & Rushton, K 2012, ‘Teaching EAL/D learners in
Australian classrooms’, PETAA Primary English Teaching Association Australia, viewed 21
August 2017,

Edmiston, B 2007, 'Mission to Mars: using drama to make a more inclusive classroom for
literacy learning', Language arts, vol. 84, no. 4, pp. 337-346.

Henderson, R 2004, 'Recognising difference: one of the challenges of using a multiliteracies

approach?', Practically primary, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 11-14.

Hyde, M, Carpenter, L & Conway, R 2014, Diversity, inclusion and engagement, 2nd edition,
Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, VIC.
Rachael Gully English 2 – Assignment 1 110149873

Liu, C 2010, Home language: A stigma or a vehicle to literacy? Literacy Learning: the Middle
Years, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 26-40.

Miller, J & Windle, J 2010, 'Second Language Literacy: Putting High Needs ESL Learners in the
Frame', English In Australia, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 31-40.

Molyneux, P 2009, Education for biliteracy: Maximising the linguistic potential of diverse
learners in Australia’s primary schools, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, vol. 32,
no. 2, pp. 97-117.

Naqvi, R & Pfitscher, C 2011, 'Living Linguistic Diversity in the Classroom: A Teacher Inductee
Explores Dual Language Books', Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education, vol. 5, no. 4,
pp. 235-244.

Winch, G, Ross, JR, March, P, Ljungdahl, L & Holliday, M 2014, Literacy Reading, Writing and
Children's Literature, 5th edn, Oxford University Press, Sydney.
Rachael Gully English 2 – Assignment 1 110149873


Appendix 1:

Create literary texts by developing storylines, characters and settings (ACELT1794)

Appendix 2:

Understand, interpret and experiment with a range of devices and deliberate word play in
poetry and other literary texts, for example nonsense words, spoonerisms, neologisms and
puns (ACELT1606)

Appendix 3:
Discuss literary experiences with others, sharing responses and expressing a point
of view (ACELT1603)