Non-native pupils in the mainstream classroom in England raise awareness that pedagogy and language are not only the issues to be raised. Their rights and equality were highlighted as important. Non-native pupils in England should have equal opportunity and access to English as the dominant language in schools for the minority pupils. Although other minority languages have value the educational attainment is only achieved through English (Naldic, 2015).
Countries that use the English language besides England have different approaches to teaching and many of them have their own curricula and assessments for their EAL pupils (Naldic, 2015).
The main theory supporting EAL practice over the last 40 years derives from the theorist Professor Jim Cummins, an academic from Canada.
The Iceberg Model (BICS and CALP)
This theory was developed by Cummins in 1981, he used a metaphor of an iceberg so one could tell the difference between ‘Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills (BICS) and Cognitive and Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) (Naldic,2015). (Naldic, 2015)
Cummins theorised that once we have conceptual knowledge in one language this would support the other language, therefore, making it comprehensible. Cummins goes so far to suggest if the pupil knows states of matters or concepts in their mother tongue they will only need to learn the labels in English to be successful at this. However, pupils with limited access to school who would have to learn both skill and concepts such as reading and labels at the same time would experience more difficulties in learning (Manitoba, 2017). The threshold hypothesis theorised by Cummins was similar to the work of Abraham Maslow hierarchy of needs. Cummins suggested as did Maslow that for the learner to meet their potential they have to complete stages before they can proceed to the next stage (Cummins, 1976 cited in British Council, 2016). Abraham Maslow 1943 is frequently used in education to ensure schools encourage and consider social and cultural needs of the learner are being met (British Council, 2016). Maslow (1954) hierarchy of needs is based on different level of needs an individual has before they reach self-actualisation, meet their full potential. Pupils need to feel safe and valued in their learning environment if they are to reach their educational attainment (Bartlett & Burton, 2012).
7. Previous research
A previous study carried out by Sandra McNally and her colleagues researched the impact of non-native English speakers in the classroom. Their findings confirmed that the number of non-native speakers is on the increase and majority of these are from an increase of higher birth rates in ethnic minority groups(Geay, McNally and Telhaj, 2012).. The media has reported that the learning process of native speakers puts them at a disadvantage due to the native pupils teaching staff to have to take in class to support the non-native speakers. The study concluded that a majority of non-native speakers attend more disadvantaged schools. There was an increase in the intake in Catholic schools due to the high number of Polish immigrants. They pointed out that the number of children coming from East Europe was not a cause for concern due to the findings that many are better educated than native pupils so therefore would be a great asset to the labour market (Geay, McNally and Telhaj, 2012).
8. Research method
According to Woods (2006) qualitative research which will be used in this study, the researcher is able to collect their data in a natural setting. The researcher will report the participants understanding and perceptions of the situation. This type of research also allows the researcher to have an idea of what the outcome will be but they do not begin the research in hope to prove or disapprove the hypothesis. This will conclude once all the data has been retrieved to put forward a theory (Glaser and Strauss 1967 cited in Barlett & Burton 2012).
9. Research philosophy
Interpretivist paradigm is used and this allows for the researcher to collect ‘naturalistic’ forms of data. All the teachers in my study will have a personal view of what happens in the classroom and each will react differently to how they interpret events. The qualitative research will explore the teacher’s perceptions of their EAL pupils. The interview will allow for in-depth understanding whilst gaining specific details and exploring the complexity of the study (Bartlett & Burton 2012).
10. Research design
The interview between the researcher and teacher will be structured with a set of five questions (Appendix 3). These questions will allow the researcher to provide qualitative data which will be in the teacher’s own words, encouraging them to expand on their responses. These will allow teachers to give an in-depth detailed description of their experience. Whilst interviewing the teachers the researcher will also be able to take into account, body language this will give added guidance to the researcher if they seem happy or confident about what they are reporting.
11. Limitations of research design
Qualitative method and Interpretivist paradigm
Qualitative data allows the interview of the teachers to answer the same question but their response will be different. This could cause difficulties in making a systematic comparison, therefore, making it subjective. The time it will take to collect/record data will restrict the sample size of participants in the study to a small group. The small sample size reduces the possibility of generalising the results to the population. The results will be reported in numbers rather than percentages (MMU, no date). According to Nisbett 2000, policymakers report the interpretivist approaches created complex analysis in education which fails to resolve issues (Bartlett & Burton, 2012).
Convenience and Sample size
The school I have chosen to carry out my research is a primary school in a city centre with an ever-increasing intake of children with EAL needs. Although this school would seem to be a good choice for my research there may be others that might have been more appropriate. For example, with an increase of Polish pupils, there are higher intakes in Catholic schools. This could suggest I should have used a faith school for this research (Bingham, 2012). The sample size is also small so the results will not be able to be generalised to the population.
12. Research tools
A semi-structured interview will be carried out with the eight teachers/teaching assistants. There will be a recording device used and written notes taken. Please see Appendix 2 for interview questions.
13. Sample population
Accessibility, expense and time often prevent researchers from carrying out their research so a small sample size will be used in this research to allow for in-depth information to be shared of the teacher’s views (Cohen, Manion& Morrison, 2011).
14. Profile of participants
There are three teachers qualified for the early year’s team. The school also have three teaching assistants to support them and two special educational needs, assistants. The teaching assistant who supports the children with non-native speakers has 5 years’ experience working as a teaching assistant in the school. The teacher has been the EAL lead for the last two years and has no formal qualification for supporting the EAL pupils.
15. Data analysis
The semi-structured interviews aimed to capture the participant’s views of their teaching experience with non-native pupils in their classroom. The interviews will be taped on an electronic device. The data obtained will be transcribed and this will allow the researcher to report their perceptions in a final report. According to Kelle and Laurie (1995) using a computer system to code the qualitative data can support the grounded theory. Computers are able to cope with the large amounts of qualitative data making it reliable and therefore giving the study validity (Cohen, Manion& Morrison, 2011).