Who are our learners
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Who are our learners?. An overview of research conducted by the Indigenous Schooling Support Unit into the language backgrounds of students and the implications of these for the classroom. Denise Angelo & Nina Carter. Overview. Current data about Indigenous learners Invisibility of language

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Who are our learners

Who are our learners?

An overview of research conducted by the Indigenous Schooling Support Unit into the language backgrounds of students and the implications of these for the classroom

Denise Angelo & Nina Carter


Overview

Overview

  • Current data about Indigenous learners

  • Invisibility of language

  • Three research projects:

    • White Rock State School, Cairns

    • Woree State High School, Cairns

    • Bundamba State Secondary College, Ipswich

  • Implications for Queensland schools


  • Who are our learners

    Current data about Indigenous learners

    • Doesn’t recognise the huge diversity amongst Indigenous students

    • Many factors influence classroom learning

    • In data sets the ‘Indigenous’ category is not unpacked

    • Language is one element that is often not considered

    • Confusion about the interaction between Indigenous , LBOTE and ESL/D

    • Often Indigenous ESL/D students are considered to have other difficulties rather than learning SAE, which is a prerequisite for accessing classroom learning


    Invisibility of indigenous language learners

    Invisibility of Indigenous language learners

    • In Queensland, Indigenous ESL/D learners have generally not been identified.

    • School-based data about language has usually only been collected for reasons of funding eligibility i.e. ESL ILSS if at all.

    • Many Indigenous students who speak creoles and related varieties remain hidden as ESL/D learners.

    • This leads to skewed interpretations being made about Indigenous ESL/D students’ progress in school.

    • It also means policies, programs and teaching practices do not adequately address many Indigenous ESL/D students’ language-learning needs.


    White rock state school longitudinal study

    White Rock State School Longitudinal study


    Rationale

    Rationale

    • To show the existence of Indigenous ESL/D learners despite absence of enrolment data (MLOTE)

    • To investigate the connection between spoken SAE proficiency and literacy performance

    • To check for correlations between ESL Bandscale levels and standardised test performance i.e. state/NAPLAN

    • To conduct research over an extended period of time to map trajectories of Indigenous ESL/D learners acquisition of SAE


    Findings

    Findings

    • High numbers of Indigenous ESL/D learners of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds

    • Clear correlations between spoken SAE proficiency and standardised tests

    • Trajectories of students show that many students plateau before Bandscale level 5


    2007 results

    2007 Results


    Comparison between year levels

    Comparison Between Year Levels


    Mean bandscale levels across school years in 2008 with standard deviations

    Mean Bandscale Levels Across School Years in 2008 (with standard deviations)


    Correlations with standardised test data

    Correlations with Standardised Test Data


    Woree state high school bandscaling project

    Woree State High School Bandscaling Project


    Rationale1

    Rationale

    • To identify the number of hidden ESL/D learners in the Year 8 cohort of Woree SHS, an urban high school.

    • To determine which languages these students spoke, with particular attention given to creole varieties.

    • To ascertain the identified ESL/D learners’ current levels of SAE proficiency.


    Findings1

    Findings

    • Significant numbers of hidden ESL/D learners, predominately from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds

    • Many students are speakers of language varieties that are the result of language shift

    • Language awareness for students and educators is essential

    • High school students do not have adequate SAE proficiency to access classroom learning


    Esl s learners in each year 8 class

    ESL/S Learners in each Year 8 class

    • A lack of school-based language data makes it likely that the hidden ESL/D students’ language needs are not being met at school.


    Percentage of languages spoken at home by language grouping

    Percentage of languages spoken at home (by language grouping)


    Who are our learners

    Bandscaling of speaking data

    • It is commonly acknowledged that Speaking Bandscale level 5 is required to access classroom, if assistance is provided.

    • 100% of ESL/D learners at this school in 2008 might not have understood classroom instructions and content. This equates to 60% of the Year 8 cohort.


    Bandscaling of writing data

    Bandscaling of writing data

    • It is generally acknowledged Writing Bandscale level 6 is required to produce age-appropriate texts.

    • 97% of the Year 8 ESL/D learners did not have the SAE skills required to produce age-appropriate texts. This equates to 58% of the Year 8 cohort overall.


    Who are our learners

    An investigation into the interface between language and literacy at Bundamba State Secondary College


    Rationale2

    Rationale

    • To compare the hidden ESL/D demographic at an urban high school in SE Qld

    • To build on methodologies already developed i.e. language awareness processes

    • To find ways to quantify language in a data driven climate

    • To analyse the language use of both ESL/D and SAE-speaking students

    • To differentiate the language profiles of ESL/D students and low-literacy students


    Findings2

    Findings

    • High numbers of hidden ESL/D learners in the SE Qld context

    • ESL/D learners, including many Indigenous ESL/D learners, were harder to identify in this context

    • Hidden ESL/D learners are often from language shift backgrounds of both Indigenous Australian and Pasifika heritage

    • Language data can consist of quantity, errors and complexity, as well as overall proficiency i.e. Bandscales

    • A major difference between ESL/D learners and low-literacy SAE speakers is identified through an interaction of learner features (errors) and grammatical complexity in writing


    Percentage of possible esl d students in individual year 8 classes in 2009

    Percentage of possible ESL/D students in individual Year 8 classes in 2009


    Who are our learners

    Percentage of languages (excluding English) spoken at home and while growing up by possible ESL/D students at Bundamba SSC


    Length of text and vocabulary counts

    Length of text and vocabulary counts

    For ESL/D learners:

    • there is a strong correlation between Bandscale levels and students’ vocabulary counts (word counts/word tokens) i.e. the more English a student has, the larger their vocabulary counts

    • the correlation between Bandscale levels and the length of a student’s text (tally scores) is not as strong

    FNQ ISSU Draft 23.3.10


    Complex syntax and sae speakers

    Complex syntax and SAE speakers

    • The scores of the SAE speaking students clustered between those of the ESL/D students in Level 4 and 5 on the Bandscales

    • This is not unexpected as Level 5 on the Bandscales is the level at which ESL/D students are producing age-related texts with some limitations


    Learner features and esl d students

    Learner features and ESL/D students

    • As students’ learner features decrease, their language acquisition tends to increase

    • Some advancing students’ attempts at complexity also result in increased learner features


    So what does this all mean

    So what does this all mean?

    • SAE proficiency impacts considerably on students’ performance in school contexts

    • Many Indigenous students speak varieties other than SAE as their first language/s

    • Many Indigenous ESL/D learners are plateauing in their SAE acquisition

    • Most Indigenous ESL/D learners are not recognised as such

    • Schools do not collect LBOTE data on Indigenous students either through enrolment or ongoing language awareness and community engagement processes

    • Language proficiency data on Indigenous ESL/D learners is not part of ongoing assessment processes nor does it inform teaching practices


    Recommendations

    Recommendations

    • Awareness of Indigenous language varieties is essential for schools to recognise and therefore respond to their Indigenous ESL/D learners

    • Students, families and community members need opportunities to develop own understandings and decisions on their language situation

    • Schools need to collect accurate language data and need to develop the tools to do so i.e. understandings, processes, relationships etc.

    • Pedagogy needs to respond to learner needs demonstrated by data that considers SAE as a foundation for classroom learning in Queensland schools

    • Teaching approaches have to consider and respond to language learning needs in most Queensland classrooms


    Who are our learners

    Whole-school approach


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