Second Language Students in English-Medium Classrooms

The latest title in our Parents’ and Teachers’ Guides series is Second Language Students in English-Medium Classrooms by Coreen Sears. In this post, Coreen tells us why this book is such a vital resource for teachers of children in international schools. 

Second Language Students in English-Medium ClassroomsEarlier this month my new book was published by Multilingual Matters (in the Parents’ and Teachers’ Guides series edited by Colin Baker, a great name in the field of bilingual education and language learning). The book is called Second Language Students in English-Medium Classrooms and it is specifically designed as a guide for teachers in international schools, but it is also applicable to teachers in English-speaking national systems.

The book is a very practical and down-to-earth guide to teaching in schools where students may have experienced different education systems and who are in the process of learning English. These students may also be globally mobile, moving with their parents every two or three years, or local students whose parents have placed them in an English-medium school. For teachers who are new to international education, (and longer-serving teachers too) the endless variations in geographical, cultural and linguistic experiences that these students display can be extremely challenging.

Three developments in international schools made me decide to write a completely new book about working with second language students in these settings – these are:

  • Second language students now frequently outnumber first language speakers of English in many international schools. Gone are the days when they represented only 15 or 25% of the student body. Even in schools with mobile student populations, second language students may now represent around 75% of the students in a school. In schools that contain students largely from the local population the numbers may be higher. So now it’s not possible to view this group as the exception – in most schools being a second language speaker of English is now the normal thing to be.
  • In many international schools of all types there is now a greater awareness of the need to view, and educate, second language speakers as bilinguals. This does not only mean that schools should be serious in their commitment to supplying in-school home language classes where possible, but also that students’ home languages should be incorporated into their work in the English-medium classroom. There are several new approaches to achieving this, but I have opted to get down to the nitty-gritty and offer some real-life practical strategies that teachers can employ without being experts in any one pedagogical method.
  • Finally, although technology, and all its possibilities, is being introduced in education systems all over the world, the degree to which international schools have invested in IT is staggering. Teachers in most international schools have access to training and equipment that will allow them to embed technology in their classroom work to great effect. I try to indicate in my book how valuable IT can be in working with second language students and offer numerous practical examples of its use.

Finally, I want to emphasise that this book is written by a teacher, for teachers. I’ve included numerous stories, anecdotes and extra material in the Text Boxes. I hope you can find what you need in order to make your work with the second language students in your classrooms even more effective.

Coreen Sears

If you would like more information about Coreen’s book please see our website or contact her directly at the email address above. 

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