May 9, 2024, by Arts Placements

From Peeling Oranges, Easter Crafts and Teaching New Phonemes: The Complexities of an English Language Placement in a Reception Class

By Tiha Wheatcroft – PGT Student in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching

Applying for the Placement

An opportunity arose when I browsed the Faculty of Arts Moodle page: a volunteering placement in a primary school, focusing on Teaching English as an Additional Language (TEAL). I wanted to take part in this placement to confirm my aspirations of a career in teaching, specifically English Language Teaching (ELT). I did not have much experience prior to the placement, only the knowledge from my course. However, when I read the requirements of the role and saw that I had enough experience and the skills that the school might be looking for, I applied immediately. I was enthusiastic about boosting my skill set and experiences with the opportunity of teaching English as an additional language in a primary school.

Preparing for the Placement

Several students took part in the placement, and I partnered with Amelia. Amelia was amazing and a great help and support throughout the duration of my placement. Training sessions, led by university staff, covered what to expect and implement within a classroom, as well as important time spent on safeguarding.

My allocated a primary school was a 20-minute bus journey away from University Park Campus. Before I started, I contacted staff to gauge a better understanding of what the school expected from me. They told me I would work with 10 children, aged 4-5 who all had English as an additional language, and were from a wide range of backgrounds. We were allocated 15-minute sessions within the 2-hour time frame that we spent at the school every Tuesday.  It was my duty to create small lesson plans for these short sessions. I received a great amount of support from my partner and the incredible staff that I met at the school. I never felt underprepared.

My Experiences at the Placement School

Something that I could never prepare for, however, was the enthusiasm and the excitement of the children in ‘Hedgehog’ and ‘Robin’ classes when me and Amelia arrived for our first day. The children were over the moon to see new faces in their classrooms. The sessions we had with the children were challenging for me and for them. I made sure they could get the most of their phonics and oral blending by making sessions fun and engaging. Alongside the teaching of phonemes and observing phonics and maths lessons, I was able to take part in arts and crafts, sandpit play, baking and help with snack time. I realise now that I was helping teach the children far more than the English language.

What I Have Learned

The placement was good at throwing spanners in the works. Even though we created lesson plans, we could not always stick to the plan. I had to be flexible and had to use my initiative to solve problems that appeared in our sessions.

It was incredibly rewarding to aid in the language progression of the 10 EAL children we got to know and even more rewarding to learn from them. The placement gave an insightful look into the teaching profession. I am incredibly grateful that I was given the opportunity and am even more confident that I can progress further with my teaching aspirations.



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