The term EAL (English as an Additional Language) is used when referring to pupils whose main language at home is a language other than English. There are now more than one million learners in UK schools who speak English as an additional language (EAL). This represents a considerable proportion of the school population. In our school population, we have 10% of children who have English as an Additional Language.
At Stratford Primary School we aim to work together to meet the full range of needs of these children and their families, ensuring they all feel valued at our school.
Our EAL learners are an asset to our school and our community and bring a new dimension to our school. These children can share experiences and cultures from other countries and bring an international perspective, helping their peers understand different cultures, people and points of view better. Our EAL learners also have extra language skills they can share and bring to the school and to the UK when they grow up. The potential among EAL learners for bilingualism is particularly important, as it increases mental ability such as problem-solving and creativity. Our teachers therefore consider the role of learners’ first language and are aware that the acquisition of a new language goes hand-in-hand with cognitive and academic development.
Most classes in our school have EAL learners in them. As with other groups of learners, our teachers adapt their lessons to make sure that all learners can get the most out of lessons. They do this by involving learners in activities where the language is challenging but appropriate to their abilities and interests. Teachers aim to give status to EAL children’s skills in their own language(s) and acknowledge the time it takes to become fluent in an additional language. The skills and needs of pupils with EAL are assessed on admission and appropriate provision is provided according to their needs. We use a range of different strategies to support children as they develop fluency for the English language, thus enhancing both their social and academic experiences within the school environment.
Here are some of the main principles of teaching in our school which enable EAL learners to progress well:
- We use key visuals in the form of pictures, photographs, and so on, to help learners make sense of new information.
- We use graphic organisers such as tables or grids to help learners organise their thinking.
- We develop interactive and collaborative teaching and learning styles and activities.
- We think about the language demands of the curriculum (oral and written) and provide models and frameworks where appropriate.
- We use drama and role play to make learning memorable and encourage empathy.
- We get learners to work with partners or in small groups using the language for a specific purpose rather than out of context.
- We try our hardest to maintain and develop our EAL learners’ first language alongside improving their English.
- We provide opportunities to talk and encourage discussion before engaging in writing activities.
- We support language development through key phrases rather than key words.
- We provide 1:1 /small group teaching for individual pupils where appropriate to help them access the curriculum.