Community Village


Download resource

Please enter your details to download this resource
Author: Val Awad, Head of Early Years, Cairo English School, Egypt

As a Head of Early Years in an international school following the EYFS and IPC curriculums it has always been important to ensure that the teaching of the English language is done in the classroom without the help of specialist EAL support. Early years teachers are great physical, visual talkers!

One of the key principles of teaching in the Early Years is that bilingualism has an advantage and that as the first language it has a continuing and significant role in identity, learning and the acquisition of additional languages.

In the Early Years Department of our school, 90% of new students to FS1 and their parents are EAL in the same home language (Arabic) and are taught by a majority of overseas hired teachers who have no prior experience of this home language.

In FS1, where we accommodate children between the ages of 3 and 4 years, it is very important that we acknowledge their home language not just pay lip service to it. We do this by providing bilingual teaching assistant support and encouraging parents to continue to use their home language especially during bedtime stories and everyday life experiences. These children are still in the early stages of cognitive and academic development. Language acquisition goes hand in hand with this development, building on the skills and experiences they encounter within the setting.

The home language should be valued and we do this quite successfully at our school by having Arabic taught in the early years’ classroom as opposed to moving to an Arabic only classroom. Having displays of children’s activities and photos of them working in Arabic lessons displayed prominently in the class and encouraging the Arabic teachers to use a similar form of early years pedagogy has had a very positive impact on children’s English language acquisition. The children see daily the interactions between the English and Arabic teachers; the rapport, respect and camaraderie for each other. The use of our Early Years topics to inform Arabic planning enables children to make connections with their learning. Also using similar approaches to synthetic phonics in both languages and displayed alongside each other. This shows our EAL children that we value them, their culture and their community; the results of which are that children in foundation stage at our school grasp English more confidently and securely and at a quicker pace.

Tools to support this development:

  • Circle Time and small group activities
  • Visual stimulation
  • Props and artifacts
  • Choral assemblies
  • Rhyme and repetition as in songs and stories
  • Real life experience and connections
  • A secure and non-confrontational environment
  • Daily interactive language practice
  • Home/school connections
  • Shared Home language/English assemblies and award ceremonies
  • Home language displays not just translated labels on objects

If you are interested in working at an international school check out Teacher Horizons - a site full of helpful information!

Further learning - Blog

Learning Village map
Created: Thu 4th Jun 2020

Effective assessment for learning (AfL) is ‘informed feedback to pupils about their work’ (Shaw, 1998). As Broadfoot et al (1999) discuss, there are five key ways in which we can enhance learning by assessment. These steps can be universally applied to all learning and all learners, and thus address the learning needs of EAL learners in physical and virtual classrooms. They are:

Created: Mon 24th Feb 2014

How can the new-to-English language learners and their teachers work together to provide a successful language learning experience when curriculum content is the priority? Rubin & Thompson (1982) researched and found 14 characteristics of a good language learner.

If each characteristic of a good language learner can be developed for young learners into a ‘child friendly’  question, translated into their mother tongue (maybe orally) and unpicked, question by question, each characteristic can act as a guide for learners to try out new strategies.

Created: Fri 25th Sep 2015

The lack of a common language between children can be frustrating so we often assign buddies who have a common language to help our learners. Someone who speaks the same language can help the new student feel less alienated by speaking the same language and recounting what is being said and explaining what is happening. Students are often used as interpreters in schools. However, as with any translation, it can result in unintentionally misinterpretation.