Neilburg Composite School is a rural school in central Saskatchewan that sits close to the Alberta border. We have approximately 170 students in kindergarten through grade 12 with a large majority of students being bussed to school as they live on farms. I first started teaching here in 2009. When I first started teaching we had about 4 EAL students who spoke English quite fluently and we never really had any struggles with EAL learners. Over the last 3 years we have had 14 new EAL students move to us from various countries and provinces with the majority of these students having spoke German as their first language. This started to become a big struggle in our school trying to find ways to reach these learners in which the barrier of a language was difficult to overcome. I was sent a web link for a webinar on “How to work with EAL students” and in this webinar the mentioned the program “Reading Horizons”. We did research on the program, contacted the company, had a trial sent and a great overview of the program and we decided it would be a great purchase for our school. The impact the program has made has been fantastic and it's such a great tool that is laid out so professionally and it is so extremely easy to use for students of all ages. It has been a great addition to our school.
Students using the program
1) Grade 5 – German as a first language. Came to school from a strong German speaking family which he knew a small amount of English. Started on the program. Has progressed very quickly and enjoys reading the stories the most. Since working through the program and being immersed in English conversations, he has gone on to lead classroom discussions and presentations. It has been neat to watch.
2) Grade 7 – Brother to the student in grade 5. Came to school knowing less than 40 English words and having no conversation skills. Has been working on the program consistently throughout the year. He is now reading at a grade 3.0 reading level (was first tested at a grade 1 level). He has full conversations and is even doing grade 7 classwork in English with his classmates.
3) Grade 7 – Another student with German as a first language. This student had a good understanding of the English language in conversations but struggles with reading and academic side of the language. He has been on the program since we started with it and has gained 2 full reading levels and decodes and spells at least 2 grade levels above than when he started the program.
The program has been a big help to someone who really didn’t have many resources or ideas on ways to work with EAL students and I am very thankful for the program. It makes my life much easier. Thanks again for all the support and guidance with the program and I look forward to continuing to use it with new students every year.