Supporting EAL/D students with Stile X

This blog outlines key strategies embedded in Stile X that directly support EAL/D learners.

Supporting EAL/D students with Stile X

Today, Australian students come from more than 2,000 different ethnic backgrounds. Consequently, there are many students for whom English is an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) in our science classrooms. There are over 600,000 learners of English as an additional language/dialect (EAL/D) in Government and Catholic schools in Australia. Around 25% of primary and secondary school students learn English as an additional language or dialect. In some schools, this figure can be as high as 90%.

Research shows that EAL/D students need targeted, systematic and explicit instruction based on their language needs and prior learning. This blog outlines key strategies embedded in Stile X that directly support EAL/D learners, and adaptations we can make to our pedagogy to ensure our EAL/D students are best supported to experience success in the science classroom.

Stile X provides scaffolding for students to create their own revision notes for each Stile lesson and assist them with their comprehension of key concepts and terminology. Rather than traditional ‘comprehension’ questions, students are provided with Direct Activities Related to Text (DARTs) – strategies for processing texts developed by Lunzer and Gardner in the 1970s and 1980s that provide an alternative to traditional comprehension that encourages learners to engage with texts in a way that promotes greater understanding. 

Examples of DARTs in Stile X

Text completion activities

Text completion activities provide models of sentence construction, language structures, and vocabulary for EAL/D learners to use.

There are various different types:

  • Sentence starters: where learners are given the first word, or first few words, of a sentence
  • Sentence frames: where learners are provided with useful structures with gaps in for them to complete
  • Paragraph starts: give learners the first few words of each paragraph to provide scaffolding for more extended pieces of writing

Stile X includes a range of differentiated frames, from those prompting specific use of vocabulary selected from word banks to frames that are more open-ended (thus reducing the level of scaffold).

Examples of text completion activities in Stile X with varying levels of scaffolding:

Underlining or highlighting particular sections of text

Students are required to annotate key sections of text contained in each Stile lesson. The annotation key provides explicit scaffolding for EAL/D  to support students to aid comprehension and draw out key information from texts.

An example of an annotation key for students:

Visual cues

In Stile X, students are taught to use a range of note-taking methods, ranging from two-column notes to more complex Cornell notes. As students are scaffolded through this process, activities directly teach them how to break text into smaller chunks and devise headings or ‘cues’ for each section. EAL/D students can be encouraged to use visual cues or cues that include words from their home language to assist them in recalling information later. 

Examples of exercises that encourage students to use visual cues and diagrams in Stile X to represent information:

Strategy 2: Flashcards

The flashcards in the Stile X app can be used to support learners at all stages of English language proficiency. They are particularly useful for learners at the New to English and Early Acquisition stages.

Flashcards are great for introducing memorising, revising and consolidating vocabulary. Research suggests that re-visiting vocabulary is important to aid acquisition (Schmitt 2008), and flashcards provide a way for learners to increase the number of times they encounter target words and phrases. Flashcards with pictures that the EAL/D learner can recognise help to provide a rich context which enables the EAL/D learner to access the curriculum and to build on their prior knowledge. 

Strategy 3: Vocabulary games

The glossary in each Stile X book provides students with a range of vocabulary games to help enhance students' ability to memorize words, begin to use the words in context and with meaning and enhance student motivation. The importance for language development of collaborative group work and providing real opportunities for communication has been established by many researchers, including Michael Halliday, Neil Mercer and Mikail Bakhtin. Working with a partner or in a small group allows learners to feel more confident (Swain and Lapkin, 1995). Gardner (2012) argues that collaborative learning is a feature of inclusive classrooms, and the benefits of group work are also supported by Cordon (2000). Kotler et al (2001) and Wong Fillmore and Snow (2005) also highlight the importance of social interaction and active participation in language acquisition.

Example of a vocabulary game included in Stile X to support EAL/D learners' acquisition of vocabulary in contexts in which the language is useful and meaningful:

Strategy 4: Graphic Organisers

Graphic organizers such as Venn diagrams, concept maps, and timelines offer great support to EAL learners. They show connections and relationships between different concepts in a visual and nonverbal manner. They are excellent activities for keeping a task's cognitive challenge high while keeping the language accessible. 

Graphic Organisers allow EAL/D learners to organise their thinking before going on to express their thoughts in English. 

Examples of graphic organisers:

The Frayer Model is a graphic organizer for building student vocabulary that is particularly useful for EAL/D learners to help build a deep understanding of new vocabulary. This technique requires students to define target vocabulary and apply their knowledge by generating examples and non-examples, giving characteristics, and/or drawing a picture to illustrate the meaning of the word. The purpose of the Frayer Model strategy (Frayer, Frederick and Klausmeier, 1969) is to define and categorise a concept leading to a deeper level of understanding.

Frayer models are embedded throughout Stile X to encourage EAL/D students to develop deep understanding of key words and terms while being able to draw on their own prior knowledge and experiences to do so.

Examples of Frayer Models used in Stile X:

Strategy 5: Have students use their home languages when completing Stile X activities 

Research shows that EAL/D students’ home languages can help them learn new language and content (Cummins, 1996, p. 147; Adam & Harper, 2016). Concept and vocabulary development for students with EAL can be supported by facilitating students' asking and answering questions in multiple languages (Hardman, 1999) and labelling vocabulary in their home language (Schwinge, 2003). 

EAL/D students should be encouraged to complete activities in Stile X in their home language to provide them with the opportunity to activate their prior knowledge and experience that is encoded in their home language and encourage them to transfer content, linguistic knowledge and academic skills between their languages. 

Keen to learn more about Stile X?

Find out more about Stile's revision and mastery resources here.

You can also read up on the evidence-based learning strategies embedded in Stile X's design and content here.

The Science of Stile’s Revision Resources
Five evidence-based learning strategies embedded into the design and content of Stile’s revision resources