Recent ATESOL ACT events


Supporting EAL/D learners remotely in an online environment: a workshop – 9 May 2020

How can digital tools be used to support EAL/D learner needs?

How can face-to-face content be adapted for the online environment?

Photo: A School of the Air primary student in regional Queensland takes class via two way radio

Join us in this Professional Learning event as we explore these issues to ensure that EAL/D learners are supported in our current online teaching environment.

3:00 – 5:00 pm



Photo: A School of the Air primary student in regional Queensland takes class via two way radio, c 1960,
Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 2986]

Virtual tour of the National Portrait Gallery – images to support your teaching – 23 April 2020

3 family members watching woman on computer screen
Committee Member, Mali Wijesundra, and family glued to the screen during the NPG virtual tour

ATESOL ACT was privileged to be the first group to experience our National Portrait Gallery’s first virtual tour (on Zoom). What a huge success! Thank you to the Gallery for organising such a wonderful experience for teachers during this remote learning time. Special thanks to Robert at the NPG for being our technical guru. Leigh, our virtual leader, an enthusiastic and knowledgeable member, shared beautiful and interesting portraits, engaging us with story and questions that we could share with our students.
Use the following link to access all the beautiful portraits and their background stories, as well as many other online and interactive resources:
And see below for detailed notes on the images, stories and ideas shared in the session.

As we discovered, the portraits can be used to explore the following themes for all ages and learners, including our EALD students:

  • life stories
  • story telling
  • photographic methods
  • portrait stories: video interviews with sitters and the artists
  • identity
  • multiculturalism
  • diversity
  • faith
  • literacy learning.

I highly recommend the virtual tours!

Report from Janica Morella, ATESOL Committee member and organiser of this Event

Here are some comments from participants:

  • The connections that were made between the gallery/art and EAL learners- hearing the ideas for learning tasks and using examples from the artwork to elicit/use/practice simple vocab was wonderful.
  • The teaching strategies shared with Leigh but also the audience were very useful
  • I don’t have my own class at the moment but this has me itching to get back into the classroom and try out some engaging visual arts approaches. I will recommend this and share some ideas with my colleagues.
  • I will use this with pre-service TESOL teachers and encourage them to come up with ways to link this to their planning and to the curricula they are working with.
  • Run more of these pls! And will definitely ‘steal’ this idea and see if other galleries could run similar ones for our EALD networks etc. here in Sydney. Thanks team!
  • I appreciate the effort the gallery made to contribute to remote learning at this time.
  • It would be good to know how much it costs to take students on a remote tour. Often the cost of excursions (where you have to pay for transport and entry fees) means that it is prohibitive for families with more than one child, perhaps this format would make the art more accessible.
  • Thank you for organising. What an excellent event and a real credit to the NPG and ATESOL ACT. Very accessible in terms of technology, content and communication. So interesting, learning about the portraits and discussing teaching ideas was far better than my last visit to the gallery. I hope this continues for teachers around the country (around the world) in the future!

We’ve collated some notes from the session, which include:

  • Possible themes to explore with each picture
  • Descriptions
  • Points for teaching and discussion
  • Activities
  • Suggested routine for looking at portraits
  • Links to other NPG resources

Click on the heading above or the image to the left to download the notes.

If you would like to organise your own virtual tour for your class, the Gallery can cater for your specific learning goals. Email them at or or refer to their website

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2020 Annual General Meeting – 19 March 2020

The AGM this year was meant to be held at the National Portrait Gallery following a professional learning event, a tour of the NPG collection on the theme of Identity [*].  But due to the mounting COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings at the time, the NPG tour had to be cancelled, and the ATESOL ACT Committee hastily reorganised the AGM to be held online via Zoom.

Fifteen members attended and voted in a new Committee for 2020, and passed a motion on ‘Proposed changes to membership fees – Early Bird’

  • That ATESOL ACT membership fees be changed to include an Early Bird discount of 10 percent for all membership categories, available from 1 December of the previous membership year to 31 January of the current membership year.

Outgoing President Bronwyn Singh presented her report for 2019, which you can read here: ATESOL ACT 2020 AGM President’s Report

You can read about the new office bearers and Committee members for 2020 in the ATESOL ACT April 2020 Newsletter

[* The planned tour of the National Portrait has now been scheduled as a virtual tour – see details here: Virtual tour of the National Portrait Gallery – images to support your teaching – April 2020 ]

Term 4 2019 Meet & Greet – 22 November 2019

We ended 2019 with a social/networking event for anyone who teaches English to speakers of other languages in the ACT.  This was held at EQ Cafe in Deakin.

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Multilingual Storyboxes – 2 November 2019

Presented by Dr Gill Pennington, EAL/D Consultant, NSW

Gill Pennington enthusiastically shared with a group of teachers in Canberra some wonderful and insightful ways of teaching language through story. The ‘power of stories’ helps all of our students, particularly our EAL/D learners, to better understand our world and the human interactions that take place in our different contexts:

  • Development of family stories
  • National and cultural myths and histories passed on over time
  • Religious practices and beliefs

Gill shared some very practical teaching strategies, giving reference to ‘hot’ books that exemplify not only rich literature that link to the Australian Curriculum, but ensuring the inclusion of the many cultural and multilingual children in our classrooms.
She highlighted and gave examples of the 6 ways stories connect with EAL/D pedagogy:

  1. Links to prior skills and understandings
  2. A focus on oral interaction
  3. Designed and contingent scaffolding
  4. Explicit language teaching
  5. Message abundancy
  6. Rich tasks – bringing it all together

Gill was able to show us how ‘Building a Storybox’ can be a powerful, engaging and interactive way for students to share their stories, while making new connections and building upon their English language ability. This can be a wonderful, shared resource amongst classrooms and schools, promoting opportunities for cohesion amongst cultures; encouraging a learning environment that is safe, fun and engaging. Ultimately, in the inclusive classroom, we want all of our students to feel that they belong and have the self-confidence to interact with their teachers and peers successfully.

Session report by Janica Morella

If you wish to learn or know more, please refer to Gill’s slides…

Multilingual Storyboxes slides image for linkMultilingual Storyboxes – slides

This PL was accredited for 3 hours of professional learning with TQI using the following Australian Professional Standards for Teachers:      

  • Professional Knowledge 1.3
  • Professional Practice: 3.4
  • Professional Engagement: 6.2, 6. 4

Using the Certificates of Spoken and Written English (CSWE) – two interactive workshops – 25 Oct & 1 Nov 2019

Presented by Darren Curl, AMEP SEE Coordinator TAFE NSW

Photo of 2 adult ESOL students & teacher

Darren Curl from TAFE NSW, one of the writers of the 2018 Certificates of Spoken and Written English (CSWE) curriculum, led participants in a two session workshop to help us understand the intricacies of the new CSWE.

In session 1, he provided an overview of the many stakeholders that influence how the CSWE is written. We were able to understand :

  • how the Certificates fit into a framework dictated by the AQF ( Australian Qualifications Framework) – an influence that extended to the use of the word “basic” in many of the units; and the hours of learning expected in each level
  • why the ISLPR was adjusted up to match the skills expected of students in each Certificate level
  • how ASQA ( Australian Skills Quality Authority) ) and the VET sector require a work focus for all courses, and non duplication of any other available course.
  • the tight time frames involved in submitting a course to ASQA

Session 2 provided us with the opportunity to revisit the unpacking of a unit so that our teaching cycle was sure to include all requirements from the unit; sufficiency in the knowledge evidence could be twice in one task or twice across 2 of the tasks but not required in each task.
Our Q&A session addressed many questions including:

  • some of the intricacies and puzzles in the  wordings
  • the use of “approximately”, giving room for teachers to use reasonable judgement to extend some performance evidence boundaries.
  • competency can be demonstrated over a couple of tasks for each text type
  • class performance, if documented, can provide evidence for performance criteria.
  • CSWE evidence valid while student is enrolled in the course.

We agreed that it was a limitation that the new curriculum was not better supported with exemplar tasks and textbook support due to a change in the funding model.  If you have comments about the new curriculum, your local TESOL association is the place to go to have these collated for national advocacy for a better solution for ESOL students.

Session report by Jakki Cashman

Download Darren’s slides:

CSWE 2018 workshop slides thumbnail & linkUnderstanding CSWE 2018 – ATESOL ACT Training

Video recording of Workshop 1:

Video recording of Workshop 2:

[Photo source: Gemma Watson, Sunshine Coast Daily 17/07/16]

Learning Progressions and EAL/D Education – 14 September 2019

ACARA banner

Margaret Turnbull, Principal Policy Analyst at the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation in NSW, travelled to Canberra to share her expertise in EAL/D learning progressions, including the ACARA EAL/D and Literacy Learning Progressions and the NSW ESL Scales. She led a lively interactive workshop in which participants examined, compared and applied these progressions. It was a well-attended session, with over 30 attendees representing government, independent and Catholic school sectors.

Margaret also shared an example of a bilingual assessment used to highlight the strengths of kindergarten EAL/D students, and a translanguaging unit of work which culminated in primary students holding an art exhibition.

Margaret’s message for EAL/D teachers is that the progressions can work together to give us information about our students – what the student knows, and what to focus on in teaching. Ultimately though, it is our EAL/D teaching expertise that guides us in how to apply this information in the classroom.

– Summary by Mei French

Download Margaret’s slides:

Margs slides thumbnail

Learning Progressions and EAL/D Education ATESOL ACT Sept 2019

Photos from session – click on thumbnail to view large photos:

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ATESOL ACT Annual Dinner 2019

Photo of Dorothy Hoddinott
Dorothy Hoddinott

ATESOL ACT’s dinner for 2019 was held on Friday 30th August  at The Duxton in O’Connor.

Our guest speaker was Dorothy Hoddinott AO, Presiding Pro-Chancellor, University of Sydney, 2014 Recipient, Australian Human Rights Medal and Former Principal of Holroyd High School.

Dorothy shared sage words of wisdom from her wealth of experience working with and advocating for EAL learners.

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2019 Annual General Meeting – 11 May

downloadThe 2019 Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday 11th May.

New office holders and Committee members were elected for 2019.

President Bronwyn Singh presented her report for 2018, which you can read here: ATESOL ACT 2019 AGM President’s Report

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Leading EAL/D Professional Learning Within Schools – 11 May 2019wordcloud

At this professional learning event, Dr Mei French provided an example of a whole-school EAL/D professional learning program and lead participants in developing an EAL/D professional learning plan for their own context.

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Term 1 2019 Meet & Greet – 15 March 2019

We kicked off 2019 with a social/networking event for anyone who teaches English to speakers of other languages in the ACT.  This was held at The Duxton in O’Connor.

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pre-2019 events

For events prior to the current year, please check the Past ATESOL ACT events page.

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