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Here’s how schools can help migrant students succeed in school

How can teachers help migrant students excel in school? Source: Shutterstock

As the world becomes increasingly globalised and connected, the migration of families becomes increasingly common.

In the United Nations’ World Migration Report 2018, the organisation estimates that there are some 244 million international migrants globally, or 3.3 percent of the world’s population. They note that more people are migrating abroad, with many heading to high-income countries.

Countries such as the US, Germany and Russia are the top three countries in the world, hosting the largest number of international migrants, while Australia, the UK and Canada are also among the top 10.

A 2015 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report titled Helping immigrant students to succeed at school – and beyond found that most first-generation immigrant students perform worse than students without an immigrant background.

Meanwhile, reports suggest that some of the challenges faced by many migrant students include struggling to speak and write in the language of their host country, as well as struggling to make new friends and adapt to the new school system, which they may be entering at different points in the academic year.

The entire process can be anxiety-inducing.

With reports suggesting that the number of migrant students is rising, how can schools and teachers help migrant students assimilate to their new K12 classroom environment?

How schools integrate migrant students

Students of different backgrounds and nationalities come into schools at different points during the academic year, which can be challenging for them and their teachers. Source: Shutterstock

Speaking to Teacher Magazine, Noble Park Primary School Principal David Rothstadt said migrant and refugee students can arrive at the school with little warning, but the school helps students integrate by first assessing the command of their English language.

The school, located in Melbourne, is classified as disadvantaged and has students from over 40 nationalities.

Rothstadt explained that in their first year, migrant and refugee students have access to intensive English study at a language school. Students who have deficits in their English are encouraged to access that service so that they leave ready to join the mainstream school.

Meanwhile, their Assistant Principal is also responsible for the initial transition enrolment, in which an enrolment interview is held with the new family and student, often with an interpreter.

The OECD notes that it can be challenging for teachers teaching in diverse settings, as these students may differ not just in knowledge and skills, but also in the strategies that can be used to solve problems.

However, among their recommendations for countries include the fact that they “Provide specific, formal training on diversity, intercultural pedagogy and language development for school leaders and teachers, in both initial and in-service training programmes.

They add that teachers should also be trained in formative assessments, in which teachers track their students’ progress and adjust their teaching to meet their needs.

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