This post continues from “7020” (now called Teaching Assistants in Vietnam) which described how 7020 Teaching assistants in Vietnam were supporting ethnic minority students gain access to education and help them to attend school regularly.
Teaching Assistants have two main roles -working with families to encourage students to get to school and to attend regularly and to support students when they are in school. They help ethnic minority students and others who have barriers to their learning to understand the lesson (e.g. by using the mother tongue) to gain confidence in using Vietnamese language and to develop social skills through pair work,small group work and the use of games,singing and dancing.
In this post we look at how Teaching Assistants support students when they arrive at school.
As many ethnic minority students do not speak the language of instruction (Vietnamese) and some do not have access to pre-school education the need for some sort of school readiness program to prepare students to start grade 1 and learning in their second language.
Teaching Assistants run a 2 month school readiness program along with the grade 1 teacher. Although language is the focus the school readiness program is steeped in pre-school approaches of using games, singing,dancing and drawing to provide context for second language learning.
The School Readiness program acts as a transition program so students can easily move from pre-school to primary school with their grade 1 teacher as well as the bilingual teaching assistant who already knows all the parents,lives in the same community and speaks the same language as the parents and students.
The mid term results of a longitudinal study, following students from school readiness through to grade 2,has shown that students’ language ,maths and social skills are more advanced when compared to students from similar communities but who have not had the benefit of school readiness or a teaching assistant. Here are some quotes from the report of the longitudinal study:
Headteachers and teachers agree that TAs cooperate with the PTA and community to mobilize students to VSR class.They also visit students’ families and support parents to take care of students.
Regular attendance: “The most noticeable change during the last 2/3 years. is the increase in the number of students going to school and the maintenance of regular attendance. Teaching Assistants call for and encourage students to come to class, check and maintain students’ attendance The number of students going to school regularly is higher than in previous years due to the continuous monitoring of TAs”. (p. 30 ).
Reduced drop out rate:“Compared with previous years, the issue of drop-out students has nearly finished”.
Achievement: Improved use and understanding of Vietnamese Language
“Due to SR class, students can understand some Vietnamese, which is the foundation for their understanding of teacher’s basic sentences, so that they don’t feel scared when coming to class. The TA can use students’ mother tongue when necessary so as to improve their understanding of concepts”.
In terms of reading skill: in Ha Giang primary schools, in satellites with TAs, students read better. Students in classes without TAs cannot read fluently, even at the end of the first semester The difference in correct reading, writing skills of students in satellites with TAs and without TAs is greater .
There are differences in using Vietnamese to express themselves with students with SR and students without SR.
Achievement: Improved use and underatanding of mathematics concepts
Mathematics learning results of students supported by TA are better than those who are not supported by TA
Students with TAs could easily identify shapes such as circle, square, triangle, number and quantity .
Students with TAs have better calculation skills.
Mathematics problem solving skill is rather good for those with TAs. (P.36):
When students understand lessons, they are more interested in attending class. (p.32)
In early Grade 1 days, students are supported by TA in the class (TAs interpret meaning of words and sentences in mother-tongue), even some TAs come to students’ houses to help them learn in the evening, for example – TA Đinh Văn Nguyên (Gia Lai). (p.51)
Attitudes:100% Grade 1 teachers and managersconfirmed there is an increase in confidence of students compared with the summer period and Grade 1 students of the previous years.100% of teachers and managers confirm there is a remarkable, positive change in attitude towards schooling of Grade 1 students with TAs (p 31).
PEDC will continue to monitor students with and without Teaching Assistants to see if the improvement lasts into grade 2.
Watch this space!
The Teaching Assistant (on the left) has achieved grade 12 and now would like to enter Teacher Training College and try to become a qualified teacher.
PEDC will try and support her entry by providing a small allowance to help her take the entrance examination.
Lets hope that these students have a better future!