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It’s hard to even start to highlight the challenges of teaching EAL students in such a short article but there are a few key areas to consider:

Including learners of all cultures into the classroom environment and the school

It’s not easy to adjust to the conventions of another culture. Being in a new environment can mean feeling like a permanent stranger in an unfamiliar place. It’s possible for a child new  to English  to suddenly feel unsuccessful at almost every task. This can result in feelings of inadequacy and frustration. The customs in which they grew up may no longer have significance and new, unfamiliar customs unexpectedly have priority. More advanced learners usually already have a good understanding of culture, however, it is important not assume this and to include the home culture of the EAL learner.

Assessing their needs alongside the needs of more advanced native speakers

Assessment in English speaking schools are often geared towards more advanced learners. It’s important to consider what is appropriate for learners who are less-advance in English.

The challenge of learning a new writing system

New writing system can prove an additional challenge to the EAL learner.  Some new arrivals appear to cope well with a new writing system, especially if their home language has many similarities but, without training, issues can occur with children acquiring a patchy understanding of direction, letter formation, phonological processing, lexical processing, orthographical regularities, punctuation, creativity and functions. These 8 elements, in no particular order, are based on Cook (p426-430, 2005) outline of how one might learn to use a second language writing system.

Catering for all the learners in the class, whatever their level of English

It is easy to set objectives too high for the English language learners. Remember that every child should be successful from the most advance at English to those in the beginning stages.

Providing support in the use of effective language learning strategies

It is important to consider the tools that a child can use to help them learn a language. It’s our role as teachers to provide guidance in how to learn English.

Ensure resources are supportive for EAL learners

There is a wealth of resources available to support learners of EAL. These can include authentic resources, ticket/ magazines, photos, newspapers, menus, tourist brochures, personal documents e.g. passport, school reports, tapes with songs and stories, poems, posters, catalogues, postcards, story props, dual language texts, big books, magnetic letters, word games, puppets, objects, published language games, homemade games, simple worksheets, story sequencing cards and  story packs… to name just a few! Make sure resource are easy to use, appropriate and functional.

Further learning - Blog

Learners in the classroom
Created: Sat 19th May 2018

Studies have found that learning a skill yourself, and then applying it, not only brings immense personal satisfaction (among other valuable benefits), but also leads to greater achievement. It’s an important part of an enquiry-based curriculum.

Personal satisfaction can be achieved through learning that is personalised and by promoting a growth mindset. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, explains simply how achievement and success can be perceived:

Created: Mon 13th Nov 2023

Learners with speech and language difficulties may find it difficult to order and sequence their ideas with a clear beginning, middle and end.

Tip or Idea: Ask your learner to tell you about something funny or exciting that they have done. Real life experiences may make it easier for them to describe.

Learning Village resource: Use the Adventure story dilemma flashcards and have fun making up a story together! You can add additional flashcards for settings and characters too!

Created: Sat 14th Dec 2013

If you have EAL new arrivals in your school with limited English, you need a scheme of work in English that supports learners with language learning alongside the curriculum content you are delivering. This is to ensure young learners are understanding the basics of language needed for success.

Learning can be split into two parts: