When is the student ready for transition?


Since the May holidays, and after eight months in a language classroom, Delana transferred to grade 6 of the regular school. Although Delana likes teacher Harmen, she does not really like it in grade 6. All the students are working on tests that she cannot do yet and she is constantly working separately. She also misses her friends Romai and Sara, who won’t go to grade 6 untill after the summer holidays, and by then she will be in grade 7. She doesn’t really like school anymore. Harmen feels guilty that he can’t give Delana more attention, but he has 30 other students who also need him. Officially, Delana has to transfer to grade 7 next academic year but he wonders if she is learning enough right now to be ready for that transition. It is a difficult period for him too, to get a new student in his classroom.

It is great that Delana could move on to a mainstream classroom sooner than average. Research has shown that it is important to transition to the mainstream classroom as soon as possible (for overview, see Herzog-Punzenberger, 2016: 18). In addition, the language input and interaction in the mainstream classroom is more relevant because students have to deal with language use and vocabulary that is appropriate to the school and learning context (Harklau, 1994).

The question of teacher Harmen is a just question: it is likely that Delana will not learn as much regarding the school subjects in the remaining months of the academic year. And it is also not surprising she is feeling out of place: she is working separately a lot and research has shown that students feel stigmatised when they have to follow (language) classes separately (Mijares & Relano Pastor, 2011). These problems could be prevented by a good, warm transfer and an extensive adjustment period: with a complete picture of the student, it is easier for the mainstream classroom teacher to create a curriculum for the transition.

When is the student ready?

Take a random student in mind: when do you expect he/she will be ready for the transition? Why? Who takes care of the student when he/she goes to the mainstream classroom; what additional guidance is there?

When is the teacher ready?

Take a random regular teacher in mind: when do you expect he/she will be ready to take on a newcomer student in his/her class? Why?
How will he/she care for the student when the student goes to the regular classroom; what additional guidance is there for the teacher?

Why was Delana transferred early to the mainstream classroom?

This is the most important question in this situation. Is it because of her age, because she herself was ready, because her school language is good, or for some other reason? Do you have to look at the needs of the student, or the teacher in this situation? Or of both?