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Minibeast project - boy with magnifying glass
Author: Catherine Brennan, Better Bilingual

As I write this, it is Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 (18-24 May) in the UK, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, with World Wellbeing Week fast approaching on 22-26 June 2020. During these strange COVID-19 times, my thoughts are turning to the power of nature to lift spirits, lighten moods and provide a positive focus in these long, lockdown days. Fortunately, some glorious weather in England is coinciding with government permission to spend unlimited time outside exercising, which must be an absolute gift for those EAL families with young children, especially those without gardens. 

To celebrate and utilise access to the outdoors, I'd like to share an example of an outdoor home learning project that combines fresh air, exercise and connection with nature with the development of English language proficiency in primary-aged EAL pupils. There is little teacher input required, but several opportunities for family members to join in - and hopefully, a fun learning experience for pupils overall.

Project stages

The project is carefully staged into five tasks, combining elements of EAL pedagogy in the following order:

  • introduction and exploration of key vocabulary
  • valuing and active use of home or first language (L1)
  • active, multi-sensory tasks to explore the subject content
  • use of graded instructions to support comprehension
  • graphic organisers to record information clearly and support feedback
  • speaking/writing frames to scaffold sentence development
  • fun opportunities to engage with the new language and learning.

Originally a primary school teacher, Catherine Brennan works with EAL pupils across the age range from 5-19 in her role as Better Bilingual Director and Consultant, based in Bristol, UK. As well as school improvement consultancy and training on BAME and EAL inclusion issues, Catherine works in partnership with both primary and secondary teachers to embed EAL pedagogy across the curriculum. Direct EAL pupil support, including initial and ongoing EAL assessments, can also be arranged.

For further information, please visit or contact Catherine directly at

Further learning - Blog

Lea Forest logo
Created: Mon 18th Nov 2019

In September 2015, Lea Forest Academy took on an additional class of 16 Year 2 newly arrived EAL children. Eight of these children had never been schooled, while eight had had some schooling experience in their home country. The school had no specific EAL provision in place or trained staff.

What did they do?
Where did they start?

Child looking back from school gate
Created: Wed 25th May 2022

The big day has arrived, the new uniform is looking smart, and now our 'senior' Primary school learners are about to become important 'junior' Secondary school students. For most of us, this is a memorable experience and, therefore, very significant. However, whilst some learners approach this milestone with great excitement and enthusiasm, others are nervous and anxious.

Four students laughing with each other
Created: Tue 5th Sep 2023

A learner’s wellbeing is vital to their achievement and overall success. Nevertheless, an EAL (English as an Additional Language) learner’s wellbeing should be considered more thoroughly when discussing their academic performance and achievements. A learner who speaks “a language other than English as their first language and needs additional support to develop a proficiency in English” (Twinkl, n.d) is considered to be an EAL learner. They can come from a diverse, multilingual and/or refugee background.