Re-thinking pedagogy for middle school students with little, no or severely interrupted schooling

May 2009
English Teaching: Practice & Critique (University of Waikato);May2009, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p5
Academic Journal
The arrival of substantial cohorts of English language learners from Africa with little, no or severely interrupted schooling is requiring new pedagogic responses from teachers in Australia and other Western countries of refugee re-settlement. If the students are to have optimal educational and life chances, it is crucial for them to acquire resources for conceptually deep and critical literacy tasks while still learning basic reading and writing skills. This requires teachers to extend their pedagogic repertoires: subject area teachers must teach language and literacy alongside content; high school teachers must teach what has been thought of as primary school curriculum. The aim of this article is to describe some teacher responses to these challenges. Data are drawn from a study involving an intensive language school and three high schools, and also from the author's experience as a homework tutor for refugees. Stand-alone basic skills programs are described, as are modifications of long-established ESL programs. It is also argued that teachers need to find ways of linking with the conceptual knowledge of students who arrive with content area backgrounds different from others in their class. Everyday life experiences prior to, and after re-settlement in the West, are rich with potential in this regard.


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