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Scaffolding learning: developing materials to support the learning of science and language by non-native English-speaking students

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching
Issue number2
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)75-89
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In recent years, the UK, like many other English first-language-speaking countries, has encountered a steady and continuous increase in the numbers of non-native English-speaking learners entering state primary and secondary schools. A significant proportion of these learners has specific language and subject learning needs, many of which can only be addressed by: (a) specialized teacher training courses and (b) the use of academically appropriate, context- and language-specific materials. At present, such materials are largely non-existent for use in primary school contexts across the country. This article addresses this gap and proposes a set of innovative classroom-based and take-home materials aiming to support the teaching and learning of science at Key Stage 2 of the English National Curriculum. The materials were developed as part of an intervention research project conducted over a period of 24 months (2013–2015) in four state primary schools in Sheffield with a varied density of English non-native-speaking learners. The materials were piloted with nearly 400 learners over a period of 10 months; the teachers were trained in using the materials prior to their trial. In this paper core features of the materials will be highlighted and their main functions discussed. Specific emphasis will be put on the following aspects: (a) support for language development, (b) support for subject knowledge development, (c) use of the first language in learning through the medium of a second language, (d) development of learner autonomy, and (f) promoting learning outside the classroom – making use of parental resources. The article will also argue that the proposed materials can be used equally effectively with non-native and native English-speaking learners.