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The start of a new school year can be a daunting experience for new EAL arrivals. Some may be devastated to leave their friends, schools and homes. Some may be excited at the experience of a new adventure, but for all arriving with little or no English can be an alienating and exhausting experience. It is important to gain an understanding of how the child feels about the move to enable them to settle well.

One example is a girl who refused to speak English for the first term. She spoke only French to the teacher in the EAL lessons who in turn would give her explanations in French (although it was a group lesson conducted in English). After a term and a half she started to settle, she loved her new friends and school, and spoke only English and made good progress but it was important for her to have that settling in time.

Finding a buddy who speaks the new arrival's home language, preferably in the same year, can be a great help in the beginning as they can relax and express themselves effortlessly in a  comfortable language. The amount of concentration needed to follow a school day in a new or less familiar language is draining and exhausting. Both parents and educators are often unaware of the toll this takes on the child.

This footage of two siblings settling in their new school in Russia revealed some surprises for the parents who were under the impression that the younger brother settled in effortlessly as he a did not show any signs of having difficulties.

Tips for starting the year:

Glance over these features of best practice for new arrivals:

  • Finding a buddy who speaks their home language, preferably in the same year, can be a great help in the beginning as they can relax and express themselves comfortable and effortlessly in their language. The amount of concentration needed to follow a school day in a new or less familiar language is draining and exhausting. Both parents and educators are often unaware of the toll this takes on the child.
  • Establish classroom agreements in the first term with the students and put them on the wall.
  • Classroom instructions can be practiced in a fun way playing Simon says.
  • Prepare key academic vocabulary in EAL intervention with students prior to use in class. Getting parents on board to help with translation by sending lists home is a key to successful learning and can also help parents feel involved and part of their child's learning.
  • Give key Maths vocabulary in advance, it would be useful for them to take key words home to translate into their home languages.
  • Establish key goals and intervention strategies. This should be done in conjunction with the class teacher and may include grammatical structures such as articles and the ways of enabling the student to use them with accuracy.
  • Use differentiation by having different levels for each piece of work so more advanced students can expand their writing with more complex sentences and vocabulary with appropriate support.
  • Use different strategies to appeal to different senses and learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic (VAK) Many studies show that using different learning styles can influence the level of success.
  • Set realistic and individual achievable goals in EAL, these should be set in collaboration with both the student and class teacher. Collaboration with the class teacher is important for planning as EAL support is often need for their classwork.
  • Compare syntax in English and their home language to help develop an understanding of English sentence structure in EAL.
  • Give students ownership of learning and celebrate learning. Feedback, feed forward is important in establishing clear objectives and reviewing progress. A good example of this was seen in a parent teacher conference in May. A relatively new student to English who began in September shared his first piece of work which was a basic description of himself and compared it to a more recent piece of work (a persuasive letter to the prime minister on transport in London) and was really proud of his progress.
  • Students can develop their individual editing checklist to help them review their work.

Further learning - Blog

Created: Mon 29th Jun 2015

Many of us have learnt to spell as a child without being specifically taught the sounds. In the past, the teaching of phonics was discouraged in schools, however, we learnt a lot through sounding out words independently. At a recent course on voice production, the importance of vowel sounds was emphasised as central to pronunciation. They were also emphasised as central to sounding out to help with spelling. Chunking (breaking up words into syllables) also helps to sound out and spell longer more challenging words.

EAL children in school
Created: Mon 3rd Jun 2019

The Sentence Analyser was piloted by the children and staff in the EAL Hub at Lea Forest Academy in the autumn term of 2018. Over the following two terms, the children and staff used it in a variety of ways to support a widening of the children's vocabulary. The EAL Hub children's morphology skills were tracked, alongside a control group.

What did the data show? What did the staff think? Was the resource beneficial enough to become embedded? Let's find out!

Created: Wed 21st Jun 2017

Learners are often faced with the challenge of carrying out research for their class project work, and often schools invest heavily into non-fiction readers which can be used for such projects. Non-fiction books are a vehicle for learning all sorts of information about life and the way the world works. These books are also invaluable for helping EAL learners to develop a range of literacy skills, which in contrast to fiction books, require a different type of literacy skill because they use a narrative tone (Lines, 2009).