The Ethnic Minority Language and Achievement Service (EMLAS) works in partnership with schools in Swansea to support pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds who are learners of English as an additional language (EAL). The service provides both specialist teachers and bilingual teaching assistants to help pupils access the curriculum and acquire EAL.
The teachers within the schools plan closely together to identify language needs of individuals and look to support them in the best way that they can to develop both their use of the English language, knowledge and understanding of the curriculum and key skills.
The EMLAS service wanted to use high quality books which would engage the reader and could be used in both the home language and English to support literacy. The service set about identifying materials which would meet their pupils’ needs. After discussions between services a product was identified by the ICT Curriculum Team which could provide a solution.
The ‘Talking Pen’ by Mantra Lingua Ltd. offered a large selection of texts which were available in a range of languages which the EMLA Service supports. The ‘Talking Pen’ uses microdot technology to ‘tell’ the story to the children when they click on a section of the page. The pages of the book also feature the book told in both the English and alternative language depending on the version of the book ordered.
The Talking Pen has been used in schools around Swansea by Specialist Support Teachers in partnership with the class teachers. For example, Mrs. Lucca-Redcliffe used the ‘Don’t Cry, Sly!’ book written by Henriette Barkow and Richards Johnson which has been published in this case in both Arabic and English.
The pupils just use the ‘child friendly’ pen which is easy to grip to click on the microdot in the top right hand corner of the page and then the talking pen reads out the story in the selected language. The range of books come supported by CD ROMs and other additional materials which support the use of the books in class or at home.
The Talking Pens are also able to be used to support children with English as an additional language in a range of situations around the school as further support is available to help pupils from other products offered by the same publisher.
The use of these books and Talking Pens have supported both the pupils and home school links as parents are able to help with their understanding of both languages if they are able to understand the written form of the home language as they are able to discuss and engage with the story.
Mrs. Lucca-Redcliffe was also able to facilitate exchanging these books with the service central resource area for other texts in the same language which the service had purchased for loaning out to schools and pupils.