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Strategies for the inclusion of pupils who are beginning to learn English as an additional language (EAL) Steven Donohue & Sarah Thompson EAL Advisory Teachers, EMAS Team. March 2013. Aims.

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Strategies for the inclusion of pupils who are beginning to learn English as an additional language (EAL)

Steven Donohue

& Sarah Thompson

EAL Advisory Teachers, EMAS Team.

March 2013

  • To gain an understanding of the expected progress and stages of learning for a new to English learner at FS2 and KS1
  • To feel more confident about working with pupils beginning to learn EAL, and to acquire practical strategies for including them in classroom activities
  • To learn how to maximise opportunities for the development of EAL
  • To find out more about the many benefits of being a bilingual learner.

Wiltshire EMAS

EMAS work with primary and secondary schools, with the aim of building schools’ capacity to raise the achievement of BME pupils.

Lead Professional 0.5, 2.9 FTE advisory teachers and 10 Bilingual Assistants (who speak Turkish, Bengali, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, French German and Nepali)

One project worker for Equalities

Of approx. 64,000 pupils in Wiltshire, about 2700 are learning English as an additional language (4%)

100+ languages are represented.

About 15% pupils learning EAL are from Service families.

There are a small number of refugees and asylum seekers who are learning EAL.

top 20 languages in wiltshire schools dec 2012
Top 20 Languages in Wiltshire Schools (Dec 2012)

(Figures in brackets = October 2011)

what is an eal learner
What is an EAL learner?

A pupil whose first language is a language other than English

  • A first language other than English should be recorded where a child was exposed to the language during early development and continues to be exposed to this language in the home or in the community. If a child was exposed to more than one language (which may include English) during early development the language other than English should be recorded, irrespective of the child's proficiency in English.
  • In the case of an older pupil who is no longer exposed to the first language in the home, and who now uses only another language, the school should consult with the pupil or parent to determine which language should be recorded.
  • Data and Statistics Division, School Census 2012 for Primary Schools (including Academies) in England Preparation and Guidance, DfE
an eal learner may be
An EAL learner may be ……
  • A new arrival from another country with minimal English, and who may or may not have previous experience of school
  • A new arrival from another country who already knows some English
  • A pupil who arrived several years ago from another country and appears to be fairly fluent in English
  • A pupil who was born in the UK but who uses another language at home, possibly in addition to English
what do eal learners need
What do EAL learners need?

To learn English

To feel positive about their home language and culture

what happens when a pupil learning eal arrives in your school
What happens when a pupil learning EAL arrives in your school?
  • Discuss in groups:
  • Admin procedures
  • Introductions to staff
  • Meeting their peer group
  • Parents
  • First day
  • Getting over the Language barrier
  • Assessment of first language and English levels

Living Together

Learning Together

what are the advantages of being bilingual and using first language in the classroom
What are the advantages of being bilingual and using first language in the classroom?

It helps to affirm identity and allows inter-generational communication with family and community

First language can be used to teach and reinforce concepts

First language can be used to preview the content of a lesson

Bilingual individuals are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease

Learning more than one language as a child increases brain grey matter production

Learning one additional language makes learning the next one easier because pupils already know how language ‘works’ (metalinguistic awareness)

Bilingual pupils can take GCSEs in their first language

Translating one word or sentence can unlock understanding and access to learning

It can be used to build on prior knowledge and experience

Increased employment opportunities and a global outlook

Bilingual individuals are better at creative thinking and problem solving

what do eal learners need1
What do EAL learners need?
  • Comprehensible input – where meaning is made clear, through the use of actions or pictures
  • A stress-free environment – where the learner is able to take risks
  • The right to be silent – time to listen to the language before attempting to speak it

(Professor Stephen Krashen, Department of Linguistics, University of California)


Making input more comprehensible...

  • Collaborative learning and games
  • Graphs and charts
  • Word families
  • Gesture
  • Intonation
  • Scaffolding
  • Repetition
  • Pupil’s first language
  • Pupil’s experience
  • Real objects
  • Pictures
  • Video and TV
  • Drama
  • Role play
  • Labels

Cognitively demanding

Differentiating for EAL learners

Context embedded

Context reduced

EAL learner

Cognitively undemanding

eal and phonics the simple view of reading
EAL and PhonicsThe Simple View of Reading

Good language comprehension, poor word recognition .

Good language comprehension, good word recognition .

Poor word recognition, poor language comprehension.

Good word recognition, poor language comprehension.

eal and phonics
EAL and Phonics
  • A phonics based approach assumes sufficient vocabulary
  • Without this, reading does not result in understanding- it is an isolated skill
  • To be effective a learner should already have encountered the word in spoken language - this way understanding can be achieved
  • Synthetic phonics programmes do not have a statistically significant effect on reading comprehension, only on the decoding skill that is being practised.
  • From NALDIC (National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum) February 2010.
eal and phonics how can i help
EAL and Phonics: How can I help?
  • Use visual prompts as much as possible in your phonics


  • Preview vocabulary that will be used in phonics sessions

whenever possible. Sending it home with parents to be also

learnt in the first language will be especially helpful.

  • Give the children a chance to use new words in sentences

to check they do understand it.

  • If a child is comfortable with it, ask them to share the word

in their home language.

  • Consider a sight vocabulary/whole word approach in addition
  • Check the ‘footprint’ of the word.

Think of all the meanings of the word footprint

  • A mark left by the shoe or foot as in earth or sand
  • An impression of the sole of a person’s foot
  • The track of a tyre
  • The area affected by the level of sound or noise as generated by an aeroplane
  • The area of the earth’s surface within which a satellite's signal can be received
  • Where would you see __________________ ?
  • Would you see a _______________ in a _______________ ?
  • What causes _________? What effects does it have?
  • Can ____________ happen to a person / animal / plant?
  • When is _______________ a problem?
  • Is _______________ an example of ____________ ?




promoting talk and vocabulary
Promoting talk and vocabulary

Modelling and repetition of target language

Identifying and planning language needed

Notice the listening frame

Multiple opportunities to use oral / written forms of the language

Groups structured to have good language models

What is the third person in the triad doing?

teaching sequence to support eal learners speaking or writing
Teaching sequence to support EAL learners (speaking or writing)

1 Identify language needed

2 Plan how to model language

3 Plan opportunities for language use by children new to English

4 Assess children’s use of targeted language

5 Identify next steps



Crick software


New to English

cognitive and academic language proficiency calp
Cognitive and academic language proficiency (CALP)

Using this formula, explain why the proposed increase in tuition fees is likely to restrict the access of vulnerable students to higher education.

acquisition of eal
Acquisition of EAL

How long does it take an EAL learner to acquire competency in English?

  • 1 - 3 years to acquire basic interpersonal conversational skills (BICS)
  • 5 - 7 years to acquire cognitive and academic language proficiency (CALP) providing the pupil’s first language and literacy is well developed
  • Up to 10 years if first language is NOT well developed

Initial Assessment for New Arrivals:

  • Language in Common ( QCA) – document help establish baseline English levels
  • Assessment of first language skills with bilingual support – important for tracking progress
  • Reports/ records from previous setting – involvement of parents

EAL learners can be assessed using the extended scales from “A Language in Common.”

Extended EAL Scale

National Curriculum (English)














Level 1S

Level 1T

Step 2

Step 1















Level 1S

Level 1T

Step 2

Step 1



Distinguishing the difference-


How can I tell if their progress is what is expected?

Does the progress in their learning show they are catching up with their peers?

What kind of pathway are they taking- are they going faster then would be expected? Might they catch up earlier than the predictions?

What target might you set for this child at the end of this academic year / end of KS1 or 2?


Distinguishing the difference-


How can I tell if their progress is what is expected?

Plot their learning on a graph showing expected progress for children joining in a particular year group.

Trust your own judgement- if you feel there is some difficulty and the progress is slower than expected, some intervention is likely to help.

Some basic assessment tasks could be administered in L1 if appropriate.

Ask one of our team members to visit to offer advice- we are happy to liaise with the Specialist SEN team to offer advice which straddles both areas.

Things EAL learners can find difficult


(in, behind, after...)

Noun phrases

(the fierce angry dog

with a nasty glint in its eye)


Subject verb agreement

(I go NOT I goes)

Verb endings

Advanced forms

(I have been living here

for 3 years)

Modal verbs

(can, would, might etc.)

Phrasal verbs

(look up, get out of etc.)

Passive voice

(the cliffs are eroded by

the waves)



(suddenly, after a while)

Formulaic phrases

(little by little,

when all is said and done etc.)


key messages
Key Messages
  • A beginner EAL learner may go through a ‘silent period’ that may last from anything from a few days up to two years.
  • Maintenance and development of the first language are very important. A well developed L1 is the foundation for L2.
  • A pupil who has a good first language literacy skills will acquire literacy skills in English far more quickly and easily than a pupil who has not.
  • Provide visual support whenever possible (pictures, photos, diagrams, demonstrations, mime, gestures)
  • Pupils learning EAL learn English mainly through interactions with their peers rather than with adults. Collaborative group work provides excellent opportunities for language development.
  • Pupils should be grouped with other pupils of similar cognitive ability, irrespective of their current competence in English.
  • What is good practice for EAL learners is good for all learners.
Our contact details

Ethnic Minority Achievement Service

Level 2

County Hall



BA14 8JN