Accessing the curriculum through first language: student training programme

A new support programme for secondary students, suitable for:

  • newly arrived students
  • students still developing basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS)
  • students in the early stages of acquiring cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP)

The flexibility of the programme means that students at different stages of acquiring English can access and benefit from it.

To find out more, contact EMTAS Specialist Teacher Advisor Jamie Earnshaw

Benefits of the programme to students

The programme supports students in using skills in their first languages to independently access the curriculum, with the aim to:

  • boost students' confidence and self-esteem
  • provide an opportunity for continued development of first language in meaningful contexts

The programme adapts to the individual needs of each student, identifying which aspects of the curriculum or particular skills students need support with.

Other forms of support for secondary students

The programme is one model of support offered by EMTAS practitioners to students in secondary phase. Other models are in-class support and mentoring.

After the profiling visits, a decision is made about which model is best for the individual student.

Programme structure

The programme consists of eight sessions in total.

The first session

For students new to the school or to the UK, the first session is carried out by the school as early as possible.

The first session ensures that the student:

  • is acquainted with school rules and systems
  • has the appropriate equipment and logins for school systems to ensure full access to the school's curriculum from the beginning

Guidance on carrying out an effective induction for a newly arrived student is provided to secondary schools. This guidance applies to all newly arrived students, regardless of the model of support they will receive.

Two profiling sessions

The next two sessions are led by an EMTAS practitioner, who will gather information on the student's prior educational experiences and ascertain their skills in first language. The profiling exercise underpins the decision about which sort of support the student would most benefit from.

These sessions provide an opportunity to meet with the student's parents or guardians, helping them to understand the school processes and systems, and allowing them to ask any questions.

Five subject sessions

The remaining five sessions comprise activities centred around a theme or subject, such as English or Maths. The activities are designed to develop and apply skills in first language, such as:

  • rehearsal of ideas
  • effective note-taking
  • drafting in first language

Students are then able to use such strategies independently in day-to-day lessons. A key element of the programme is the development of speaking and listening skills.

The sessions are designed to be delivered over consecutive weeks. Between each session, students are encouraged to try out strategies in everyday lessons, affording them an opportunity for review and evaluation in the subsequent session.

At the end of the programme, students have the opportunity to review their personal toolkit of strategies developed during the programme, with the hope that they are better equipped to access the curriculum on a day-to-day basis.

Benefits for students who are not new arrivals

For students who have completed their profiling sessions, or those who might be identified as advanced EAL learners, it is possible to go straight to the main sessions of the programme. The activities in the main sessions are designed to be flexible, adapting to the needs of individual students according to their prior educational experiences and their first language skills.

Activities and strategies are suggested for students and differentiated according to the stage they are at in their acquisition of English.

Print off a flyer about the programme to share with colleagues.