Originally a doctoral research project at the University of York, the Classroom Languages project aimed to help more primary classrooms successfully represent linguistic and cultural diversity and value the knowledge that children with EAL bring to school.
The project had three phases:
First – an electronic questionnaire asking primary teachers what they think they could and should be teaching in their classrooms. Teachers were given classroom activities and asked to score them for how confident and how willing they would be to implement them. Things like: ‘using bilingual storybooks to teach the children about how words are ordered in different languages’.
Second – a number of training workshops were delivered to trainee teachers. These provided the trainees with activity ideas and suggestions of resources they could use to help represent linguistic and cultural diversity more effectively in their classrooms. Pre- and post-questionnaires were collected to assess changes in attitudes and knowledge as a result of the workshop.
Third – focus groups were conducted with practising teachers to find out more about how they feel about using home languages in their lessons, as well as reflecting linguistic and cultural diversity more generally. These prompted discussions about teachers’ attitudes towards different languages, language teaching and wider societal and educational issues which may affect their practice regarding children with EAL.