On the road with ESL-SPIN


Here’s an update from ESL-SPIN members Sharon and Carmel, from Urban Lyrebirds, who’ve been on the road, presenting on singing in the classroom, and promoting ESL-SPIN: 

In May, we flew to Brisbane to present workshops on Song in the ESL Classroom for QCAL and QATESOL.

At the first workshop in Brisbane we met an enthusiastic group of QCAL teachers at Musgrave Park, an important meeting place for local Murri people who held corrobborees there and demonstrated culture. A privilege for us to sing here and enthuse teachers under the Moreton Bay figs… they really got into the warm-up at sunset on the deck!

Next stop was the Townsville QATESOL PD DAY at St Saviour’s College, for the Plenary Session on English Through Song.

Close to 100 teachers ordered lyrics, sang “Open Our Hearts” (from Sing with me! 3), flopped on their chairs to “Too much technology is driving me crazy – I’m sitting in my chair and I’m feeling pretty lazy” and were fully engaged for over an hour at the end of the day! A testimony to the power of song.

We heard from teachers who are using Sing with me! songs across the region in primary schools. One teacher was preparing a concert the following week, with songs from Sing with me! 1. Very exciting.

Jennifer Wills gave an excellent presentation on Secret English – discussing the latest research into successful literacy practices for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

We also had a table and display of ESL-SPIN resources – and interest from teachers on how self-publishing works.

Thanks to Hazel Davidson for a great job organizing and inviting Urban Lyrebirds to present, and to the friendly teachers from QCAL /QTESOL.


Later in May, we presented Multiple literacies through Song at the 2016 VALBEC Conference at William Angliss Institute in Melbourne (and showcased ESL-SPIN resources between sessions, with great interest in how to develop resources).

5 things that made it a great conference:

  1. Chris Falk launched the Conference with songs by Glenroy Harmonisers from the Glenroy Neighbourhood Learning centre – another reminder of the power of singing to bring people together and break down barriers of social isolation.
  2. Tony Dreise from ACER talked about literacy being about far more than job preparation. Emotional literacy, cultural literacy, developing entrepreneurial mindsets, supporting personal agency and fostering creativity must also be central to any program.
  3. Public libraries are developing partnerships with other literacy providers to support adult literacy. A project with Urban Lyrebirds is in the pipeline! Very exciting for us.
  4. Prisoners in Tasmania are making leaps and bounds in their literacy with a new approach using direct instruction in phonological awareness. The program was piloted by Rosalie Martin, a speech pathologist with expertise in literacy acquisition disorders.
  5. The food at William Angliss is excellent – we really enjoyed the lunch and morning tea and the healthy choices – all made by trainee students. Well done!