The pre-service teachers elected to complete a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) course, which equips them to diagnose individual learning needs of EAL/D students and adapt teaching practices in the classroom.
RMIT partnered with Rosanna Primary School for the course, who also benefitted through access to professional learning and resources from the RMIT course coordinator.
RMIT’s course coordinator of the TESOL course, Dr Naomi Wilks-Smith, said the program is a great addition to the practical experience already offered as part of the Bachelor of Education program and addressed the need for teachers to be TESOL aware.
“The course provides our pre-service teachers with in-classroom, practical experience, that acknowledges the prevalence of students with EAL/D within primary education,” she said.
“By being in the classroom, our pre-service teachers have access to a mentor to provide on-the-spot feedback, assisting them by debriefing on experiences and supporting them in planning and next steps.”
Wilks-Smith said the idea of authentic case study scenarios is at the centre of the course’s ethos, with RMIT students, classroom teachers and the RMIT course coordinator able to collaborate and problem solve real-classroom scenarios.
“We had a classroom teacher approach us as they weren’t sure how to diagnose the learning needs of an EAL/D student in their class.
“Being in the classroom, we were able to collaborate, consider, and modify learning adaptations to best suit this particular student in the moment,” she said.
Participating RMIT students described the course as a valuable experience that will set them up for success and provide them with a competitive edge when applying for teaching roles.
“Because it is an elective, we do stand out from our peers. The TESOL courses appear on our transcripts, and are included in our resumes, so it is something we can refer to when we apply for jobs,” said one participant.
Another pre-service teacher said the practical classroom experience enabled them “to adapt our practices on the spot and solve problems in the room, that we wouldn’t have been able to do if we were learning theory back on-campus.”
“The TESOL course allows you to be more adaptive than you usually would,” said another.
The course is looking to an optimistic future, with Rosanna Primary School eager to continue the partnership and more schools looking to engage with RMIT’s pre-service teachers.
To find out more about RMIT’s Bachelor of Education visit Bachelor of Education - RMIT University.
Primary schools interested in engaging in the TESOL program can contact Dr Naomi Wilks-Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Story: Sam Muir and Katie Comas