English as an Additional Language
We are so proud of our diversity here at St Joseph's CE Junior School. Our families speak a range of languages and we are used to supporting pupils who are new to English.
Learners with EAL have a dual task at school: to learn English (language) and to learn through English. For this reason, EAL teaching aims to teach English using the mainstream curriculum as the context. Specific teaching strategies and resources are therefore necessary to make the language of the curriculum accessible to learners who use EAL.
We follow the Bell Foundation's principles of effective teaching for children with EAL.
Underlying teaching principles
Given the principles underpinning EAL pedagogy, effective practice for learners using EAL is likely to include:
- Activating prior learning
Activities that enable learners to activate their prior knowledge of the topic of the lesson facilitate greater understanding and engagement. Example strategies include taking advantage of the learner’s first language and finding out what the learner knows through questioning.
- Providing a rich context
EAL learners will benefit from being provided with additional contextual support to help them make sense of the information conveyed to them in English. The use of images and graphic organisers (e.g. diagrams, grids, charts, timelines) are very useful for this purpose.
- Making the English language explicit in the classroom
Within the context of the curriculum, learners with EAL can be encouraged to notice the language used and understand how it is used. Strategies include providing oral and written models and scaffolding speaking and writing through speaking and writing frames.
- Developing learners’ independence
The independence of learners who use EAL can be fostered by developing their organisational, thinking and social skills (for instance, working co-operatively with others, taking turns and asking for help). In terms of organisational and thinking skills, teachers can provide learners with opportunities to model and extend what has been taught and support them in developing note taking and summary-writing skills. Social and cultural norms in the classroom will need to be made explicit to the learners. Pupils might be used to different rules and codes of behaviour in school in other countries; for instance, in Japan it is inappropriate to look a teacher in the eye whilst many teachers will expect it in an English school. Teachers can convey information about school social skills by translating simple lists or presenting them pictorially for the learners. Providing a new arrival learner with a buddy speaking the same language, who can explain these different cultural school norms, is another way of doing so.
- Supporting learners with EAL to extend their vocabulary
EAL learners at all levels need to be given opportunities to grow their English vocabulary range. This could be done by taking advantage of their first language(s) through translation, the use of flashcards and images. It is important to remember to develop the learner’s academic language skills, for instance by focusing on the differences between formal and informal vocabulary. We use Racing to English to support learners with developing vocabulary.