Junior and Middle School English at Edcellent Education
Read Toni's Bio ⟶
The best thing about teaching in the Junior School at Edcellent is that it allows me to relive the many moments of wonderment I shared whilst analysing and reading books with my now successfully grown sons. Why wonderment? Because language is the only tool we possess to share each other's feelings and thoughts about our very unique and personal experience of being Human. This is why every piece of writing, whether it is from a child in Year 3 or an adolescent in Year 12 is unique. Novels and books are the only way through which we can have a glimpse of the inner world of the writers who created them. It is a wondrous place. Through words, we resonate with the harmony and contradictions, joy and pain shared by a writer. Using the same words, we tell the world what it feels like to be someone like us. It is through language that we do not feel alone.
Having worked with students and parents from non-native backgrounds for 14 years, I have found that one of the greatest misconceptions about English and Writing is that it is about vocabulary and grammar, which is like saying Cooking is about meat and vegetables. True, these are the essential ingredients for any language user; and no one needs them more than the IELTS and University-level Foundation English learners I have taught for the last 20 years. Yet these are the very minimal requirements for any student who wishes to excel in their native language. Too often, students lack originality and critical thinking skills.
As a Naplan and Scholarship Test Writing Examiner, I have found that the best pieces of writing are the ones that demonstrate an imaginative, curious, wise, impassioned and compassionate mind. To cultivate such minds, Primary and Lower-Secondary levels students need to be introduced to the implicit messages and conventions of story-telling and persuasive prose. They need to experience deeply how words and syntax, imagery and figurative language are carefully weaved together to create a unique experience for the reader. These skills are later honed and developed for the four Units of VCE English. Many of the VCE EAL students in my High School simply have not been exposed to these skills early enough, so it is impossible for them to do well.
Luckily, these are skills all children utilise instinctively; all we need to do is to guide and inspire them. For many parents for whom English is not their native language, this is a daunting task. I am therefore honoured and privileged to share your children's experiences on their journey through books, ideas and the sublimely beautiful English Language.