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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: Wed 7th Feb 2024

Learners with speech and language difficulties may find it difficult to use the correct tense or find it hard to understand the concepts of time.  

Tip or Idea: Take 5 minutes to chat together at the end of a busy day or lesson. Talk about what you did, what you enjoyed or what made you laugh. This gives learners the opportunity to practise using the past tense and maybe time and order words too like first, next and then

Created: Wed 2nd Nov 2016

An additional adult can be very effective in supporting teachers with EAL learners in the classroom. An additional adult may be a teaching assistant, learning support assistant or just a regular volunteer. They can significantly enhance support for learner motivation, confidence and self-esteem (Wilson et al, 2003). If you are a classroom teacher, you may be observed on how best to deploy your additional adults against your school standards.

Girl online learning
Created: Mon 8th Mar 2021

In January 2021, we commenced another lockdown in the UK and put our recovery curriculum on hold. The question on most of our minds was immediately: "How will our EAL learners progress without the English academic and social interaction school provides, and which they need in order to flourish in their language learning journeys?"