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The transition from EAL beginner to intermediate learner can take from one term to a year depending on the learner. 

A beginner EAL learner is learning a foreign language and requires basic vocabulary and language structures to make progress. Initially, they translate what they hear or read into their home language. Their home language is dominant and English is an alien language, gradually the transition to a second language occurs. As the learners increase their understanding of classroom language, they are able to converse more easily with their friends and teachers, and take on the same range of class activities as their peers. In some cases, English can become the dominant language and the learner may start to lose home language. For this reason it is important that the learners are encouraged to continue to develop their home languages. In some cases this may take place in school, in others, after school and at weekends. This extra pressure on the EAL learners, as well as the additional need for constant studying of English, should be taken into account when assigning homework to ensure that they have a balanced life out of school.

Jim Cummins, who has researched EAL learning extensively, points out the difference between BICS: Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills, that takes up to two years to develop and the CALP: Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency that can take from five to seven years to develop. This is the academic language that needs to be developed. In some schools, regular daily interventions exist to support learners in acquiring BICS. On exiting this support, some schools follow this with Language Enrichment classes, which are focussed purely on the academic language skills of the learners. As the group sizes are generally small, it is possible to provide a more individualised program adapted to the needs of each individual learner. Regular collaboration between the class teacher and the EAL teacher is important at this stage to support the work done in class. When available, teaching assistants can be used to further support the EAL program for the individual learners in class. Developing an editing checklist with the learner is a great way of motivating them to edit their work. The learners often memorise the checklist and are able to identify frequent errors initially with prompting, then independently.

Modelling texts and providing key vocabulary is central to a writing task. A useful book covering a variety of text types is the Oxford Discover Series by Oxford University Press. Spider graphs and graphic organisers like the one attached are helpful tools for organising their writing (inspired by Read, Write, Think, International Reading Association). Attend our EAL 'Train the Trainer' course and receive training in using the Communication Across Cultures graphic organisers to support EAL learners. 

Subject verb agreements, punctuation, breaking up longer sentences, expanding shorter sentences using adverbs and adjectives, spelling and spelling patterns, grammatical structures are all common areas in need of developing. Providing the learners with a useful adjective and adverb list from is a useful way of expanding their vocabulary. The lists need to be reviewed with the learners who need to practice the new words in context. Expanding their vocabulary to develop their writing is key at the intermediate stage.

To help learners understand English syntax, a comparative study of English and their home language can enable learners to understand the differences and similarities. As Goethe, the German writer said, “The best way of understanding one's language is to learn another one.” 

Reading is a great way of expanding and developing language and vocabulary and we will be providing some useful tips on this in the next newsletter. 

Further learning - Blog

Created: Mon 3rd Mar 2014

Teresa has worked at St John’s C of E for over 2 years. She differentiates for all ability levels but, up to now, she has never had to consider the needs of a child new to English in her class. Teresa admitted to initially feeling a little anxious, however, after seeking advice, referring to the new arrivals procedures at the school, working closely with her teaching assistant, Rumena Aktar, and giving a lot of careful thought to her planning, Teresa put the following in place:

Before arrival:

Bilingual world
Created: Sun 15th Apr 2018

The popularity of bilingual schools is increasing. This can be seen, for example, in the growing number of French schools in London, where the students follow a bilingual programme.

In many countries there is an emphasis on learning two languages (The Linguist, 2017). In Scotland in 2011 the government pledged to follow the European model of 1+2 languages. Every child would learn two languages in addition to their mother tongue, to celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity and thus facilitate the inclusion of other languages within the school.

Created: Mon 29th Aug 2016

Sometimes our students who have English as an additional language seem to be having more difficulty than expected developing their language, and accessing the rest of the curriculum. Most teachers have become more aware of the signs of dyslexia (and other specific learning differences), but the overlap with the language learning process makes it much more complex to identify EAL learners who also have a SpLD.