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In schools where English is the language of instruction we welcome new arrivals with limited English and, step by step, they become skilled in speaking English. These young learners have a gift, the gift of bilingualism. A skill that has a profound effect on their lives. This skills may affect their identity, the way they are educated, their employment, the friends they keep, marriage, where they choose to live, travel and how they think. The consequences are significant.

However, we often see cases of young learners losing their valuable mother tongue as a result of immersion in a new majority language, in this case, English. It’s very easy to focus so much on the importance of the new, majority language that the mother tongue is lost almost completely in some cases.

It is essential to foster the ongoing development of mother tongue in class and with parents and, where possible, try and ensure learners are immersed in their mother tongue from time to time.

To find out more about bilingualism in general and all kinds of question a teacher or parent may have about the area, have a look at Colin Baker’s book: A Parents’ and Teachers’ guide to Bilingualism. It includes an easy to follow list of questions highly relevant questions. Examples include:

Neither of us speaks a second language. How can we help our child become bilingual?

  • My child mixes two languages. What should I do?
  • Is it better to develop two languages together or one language later than the other?
  • Will my child learn two language only half as well as a monolingual child?
  • I do not speak the language of the school. How can I help my children with their homework?

Further learning - Blog

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.

Created: Wed 6th Jan 2016

Language learning strategies are tools to facilitate language learning that should be adapted to suit the needs of each individual.

There aren't a set of language learning strategies that makes you a perfect language learner, each student learns differently. However, there are some guidelines on the strategies others have found successful that can be provided to students to help them make more effective use of their time studying.  It's important that students understand how they learn and what strategies are more effective than others.

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: