ESL Class – Inclusion & House and home



The word inclusion can cover lots of things, for example inclusion of disabled students in school or inclusion of people with learning difficulties. We quickly found that Lake Ginninderra is a good example when looking into the inclusion of ethnic minorities and students with English as their second language. Lake Ginninderra offer a class called “ESL”, ESL standing for ‘English as a Second Language’. The ESL class is for students coming from non-Australian countries to Lake Ginninderra High School with English as their second language.

We decided to design a rich task for the class with our topic “What is a house, what is a home” as the core. Since the class has several of different backgrounds and nationalities it suited very well for this class. Their teacher figured it would also be good for the students having us in their class because they would have the chance to hear our different accents and a chance for them to interact with new people. We therefore got as much as three lessons to use for our rich task during our time in Lake Ginninderra. Unsure of how difficult we would create our task, considering the language barrier, we used our first lesson to interact with the students and learn to know them to make them feel comfortable with us in the class. Many of the students spoke English almost completely fluent and therefore we decided that we could set the bar higher than we expected.

What we decided to do in our second lesson was to tell the students to paint on a piece of paper either what they see as their house now or a house from the country they live in. We also wanted them to describe the difference between what they considered to be their house and what they considered to be their home and to write their explanation on the paper with their painting. And if they felt comfortable enough we would also ask them to do a short presentation of their work in front of the class.
We figured that the creative part of the task would enable them to express their mind without letting the language barrier becoming too much of an obstacle. We also joined in the task to make them feel more comfortable with it.

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In lesson number three we did interviews with the students about inclusion. For example we asked them if their English was improving when going to the ESL class and how the felt about adapting to another school where you did not know much, or anything, about their language. When we asked the question; Do you feel like you are treated the same as the other students in school?” One student answered “Many teachers use their lunchtime and recess to help us. They help a lot.”

“Very important because it is important to learn about others way of life, and have the mix of children close to mix of people in the real world to prevent ignorance.”

Answer when asking a student in Anderson High about the importance of inclusion.

The aim of the ESL class is that the students of various nationalities and backgrounds will learn how to make contact with students with a different nationality than your own as well as learn how to speak, read and write in English and feel confident about it. However, some of the students learning could be slowed down because all the students in the class had peers that could speak their native language which might prevent them to always “have to” speak English.
Unfortunately we could not film any of the interviews because of technical problems and therefore we could not get so many quotes from the interviews. We apologize for that.
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