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Substitution table
Author: Sarah Jones, EAL coordinator, Lea Forest Academy

There is a plethora of things to consider when piloting a new learning resource or scheme of work, so having a tried and tested framework for testing is helpful. At Lea Forest Academy we follow our piloting framework which was adapted from Edtech (2015), Pilot Framework.

Where is the resource needed?

Even though our EAL children progress well through the early acquisition stage of learning English, we find our intermediate learners lack the necessary understanding of vocabulary and language structures for them to use linguistically complex sentences and achieve success in English alongside their peers.

“A student’s vocabulary – the words he or she can understand when reading and listening and use when writing and speaking are critical to success in school. This is the reason why vocabulary is an essential element in any programme of work.”
Alexander (2018), Understanding Vocabulary

Dr. Catherine Snow advises, “For children to become successful in school they need to know the 26 letters of the alphabet, the 44 phonemes and 75,000 words.” Snow (2018), Understanding Vocabulary.

One challenge is how to teach enough vocabulary and suitable language structures. We need a strategy to help the learners access their studies.

What strategy could help us do this?

I was introduced to a new strategy embedded in a resource in the Learning Village (, ‘Sentence Analyser’; this is a simple resource which allows learners to construct sentences that help them access their learning objectives. It helps them find alternative words and create sentences or phrases correctly. It is designed to generate a substitution table to be printed out and used as a writing or speaking frame.

The table produced can be as simple or as challenging as needed. It has many possible uses for supporting teachers and learners with differentiating for language learning alongside content.

An example:

Piloting the resource

The plan is to pilot the Sentence Analyser in our EAL Hub, a literacy-enriched environment where learners assessed as proficiency levels A - C attend literacy classes for a carefully tailored, time-limited withdrawal from the mainstream.

The resource will be used to introduce and extend vocabulary, as well as to decode sentences through a range of activities during the introduction, main teaching and review of the lessons. Possible uses are listed below.


  • Learners can be given words or can write their own words under the word class headings.
  • Learners can place word class headings above the given words.


  • Learners can identify and replace words in sentences.
  • Learners can say/write sentences from a completed grid or just a headed one.

The Sentence Analyser substitution tables will be printed off the Learning Village and used as speaking and writing frames. They will also be added to the working wall display for quick reference, future use and adaption.

Moving forward

Different Sentence Analyser strategies and associated activities will then be tried and tested and feedback will be given to the whole school.

We will collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Data collection methods will include the following:

  • - Questionnaires to voice pupil and staff thoughts on the Sentence Analyser on initial onset, at mid-point and at the end of piloting the resource.
  • - The children’s speech and written work. They should have a wider vocabulary and a greater understanding of the words they use and how they order them in sentences. These skills can be assessed, tracked and monitored through an assessment tool such as, DFE (2013), English programmes of study for key stage 1 and 2, or through a similar assessment tool such as Classroom Monitor, or even an EAL continuum like the NASSEA descriptors. The focused skills will be on ‘writing – vocabulary, grammar and punctuation.’ Assessment of these skills will be tracked through book monitoring at the start, mid-point and at the end of the pilot, considering what progress the children made.
  • - An initial and end assessment on sentence structures,


Once all the data has been collected, collated and analysed, a decision shall be made on the best use of the ‘Sentence Analyser’. We will consider what the data begins to show and if the resource helped build children's mastery of language. We’ll also consider the following questions: What is going well? What needs to be improved? What do the children and staff think so far? What are the next steps?

Click here to read part two of this series of articles.

Click here to read part three of this series of articles.


Alexander, Francie (2018), Understanding Vocabulary, Scholastic (available here), Wednesday 29th September 2018.

Edtech (2015), Pilot Framework (available here), Wednesday 29th September 2018.


National Curriculum

Classroom Monitor

Sentence Analyser

Learning Village

EAL Assessment Framework

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