Community Village

Author: Author: Caroline Scott, Author and Director, Learning Village by Across Cultures
Created: Wed 6th Dec 2023

Small group teaching is an approach in which learners are divided into small groups of roughly 4-8 students and work together supported by a teacher. It is a highly effective way to improve learning outcomes, particularly for EAL learners.

Small-group teaching can be focused on an induction to English, gap-filling areas of challenge or need, or pre-teaching content in the curriculum. 

Literacy: Student writing
Author: Breda Matthews, EAL specialist
Created: Wed 7th Sep 2022

Schools often have a number of students who are not yet literate in English. Whilst this includes English-speaking children who are only just learning to read and write, it also covers other groups of learners, including:

  • 'pre-literate' learners who come from an oral language tradition where there is no written form of the language. This can make the concepts of reading and writing very difficult to grasp.

Child using graphic organiser
Author: Miranda Howell, EAL specialist
Created: Thu 4th Aug 2022

We all know that there can be resistance to writing in the EAL classroom. To break this barrier, we need to consider the reasons for this, which are often due to a lack of scaffolding and under-confident learners. Working through a process of reading a model text, deconstructing it and then reconstructing your own text by following a scaffold, leads to more satisfactory outcomes.

Child trying to pronounce
Author: Miranda Howell, EAL specialist
Created: Mon 17th May 2021

As school teachers faced with EAL learners in our classrooms, we often push the teaching of phonics down the list, especially at secondary school level. Yet communication is dependent on comprehensive pronunciation when speaking, and on decoding graphemes when reading. Consider for a moment the impact mispronunciation can have on accurate communication. For example, if I ask for soap in a restaurant, I might be faced with a blank stare! This error is caused by confusing two very similar phonemes in soap/soup.

Dialogic teaching
Author: Eli Briasco, EAL specialist
Created: Sun 8th Nov 2020

Think about the last lesson you taught to English language learners. I’m sure you did some form of planning beforehand. I imagine you probably asked several questions throughout the lesson as well. After all, the foundation of effective teaching is interaction with learners. However, did you think about the questions you were going to ask when you were planning? Did you write down any key questions?

Man handstand
Author: Isabelle Bridger-Eames, EAL specialist
Created: Tue 18th Aug 2020

As educators, we are naturally reflective creatures, habitually revisiting lessons in our minds to see if we could somehow improve. Could the outcomes have been better? Were the discussions rich and high in quality? Was the balance of activities right to get the best possible language learning progression? Here, we will explore how to get the right balance in lessons, as well as suggesting activities. 

Fruit and vegetables
Author: Yzanne Mackay
Created: Mon 30th Dec 2019

New Year is a time to take stock – and often to think about making changes. One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to try to eat more healthily. But how do you explain healthy eating to new arrivals who don’t have a firm grasp of English?

Musical notes
Author: Dr Anne Margaret Smith
Created: Thu 5th Dec 2019

There are many similarities between music and language, in the way they are organised, processed and produced. Music therefore has enormous potential as a language-learning tool, and one that can be appealing to even the least engaged or confident learners.

building blocks
Author: Caroline Scott, Yzanne Mackay
Created: Thu 29th Aug 2019

“Scaffolding is the process a teacher uses to model or demonstrate how to solve a problem (in the case of language learning, to support learners with using the language needed to articulate themselves). After modelling, they step back, offering support as needed.”
Scott, 2019

Collaborative learning activity template
Author: Stuart Scott
Created: Mon 25th Mar 2019

This ‘Introduce Me’ activity is a fun and rewarding way to introduce a new topic, while developing language skills.

It’s ideally suited to learners of English, allowing them to hear knowledge  presented in different ways, by more than one source, in a non-threatening environment. There’s plenty of opportunity for repetition and rephrasing. This is an adaptable activity to suit any topic where you need to introduce content. This particular example is based on trading goods (see References), but a blank template is provided for you to create your own resource.

Lego blocks
Author: Caroline Scott, author and director
Created: Tue 27th Nov 2018

The National Learning and Work Institute (2018) completed a randomised controlled trial of a Community-Based English Language intervention aimed at people with very low levels of functional English proficiency. Findings showed “a strong and clear positive impact that attendance on an intensive 11-week Community-Based English Language course has on both English proficiency and social integration for those with relatively low levels of English proficiency.” (Integrated Communities English Language Programme, 2018).

Learners in the classroom
Author: Sarah Jones, EAL coordinator, Lea Forest Academy
Created: Sat 19th May 2018

Studies have found that learning a skill yourself, and then applying it, not only brings immense personal satisfaction (among other valuable benefits), but also leads to greater achievement. It’s an important part of an enquiry-based curriculum.

Personal satisfaction can be achieved through learning that is personalised and by promoting a growth mindset. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, explains simply how achievement and success can be perceived:

Forest road
Author: Gemma Fanning, EAL specialist
Created: Tue 6th Mar 2018

The term 21st Century skills is becoming significantly part of the classroom learning environment, but what exactly does that mean? There are a few definitions, however, in essence, these are the skills that our learners need to prepare them for their future (Puchta & Williams, 2014), taking them from their studies, to their futures as adults.

The Four C's

Many researchers today acknowledge the 4C’s. They are known as:

Image of a waterfall
Author: Sarah Jones, EAL coordinator, Lea Forest Academy
Created: Wed 3rd Jan 2018

"One look is worth a thousand words." Barnard (1921), Chinese proverb.

Images are powerful as they can usually be interpreted regardless of the language spoken.

Have a look at this image:

Someone sitting alone isn’t always negative. A title can make all the difference. For example, ‘Hope!’ What does this picture mean to you? ‘Alone!’ Now what does it mean?

Author: Gemma Fanning, EAL specialist
Created: Tue 23rd May 2017

Brewster, Ellis and Girard (2012) discuss the idea of playing Bingo or Dominoes as games for connecting various curriculum areas. Brewster (2012) explains that playing games like these can be a support for learning target vocabulary, for example, playing a Dominoes game before or after reading where learners can either match the words or the pictures together as they listen is an excellent way to learn the target language. You may be studying the human skeleton vocabulary in the game and making connections to the class book e.g.

Author: Gemma Fanning, EAL specialist
Created: Tue 25th Apr 2017

Play is a crucial part of language development and ideas for play and games are an essential part of any teacher’s toolkit. One of the most informal and obvious contexts for language development takes place in the playground for any child (Pinter, 2006). Children will often pick up every day language from their peers and this can be an essential part of their learning. Pinter (2006) explains that when a child moves to a new country, after the initial silent phase, children will then start to pick up phrases, conversation language and so-called playground language fairly fast.

Author: Gemma Fanning, EAL specialist
Created: Thu 9th Feb 2017

‘Stories and storytelling are fundamental to the human experience.’ Nunan (2012).

Created: Wed 6th May 2015

This morning my 4 year old woke up and said, "Mummy, there are two languages, child's language and adult language". I asked her what she meant and she explained that when her friend was crying the teacher told her to read her the "owl" book. She then said, "The teacher reads the words but the child changes it." A young child may not be able to read, or retell the story using the actual words but often can retell it in their own words. A bit like a translation, as my daughter illustrated. The key factor is not the actual words, but the story behind the words.

Author: Val Awad, Head of Early Years, Cairo English School, Egypt
Created: Sat 21st Dec 2013

As a Head of Early Years in an international school following the EYFS and IPC curriculums it has always been important to ensure that the teaching of the English language is done in the classroom without the help of specialist EAL support. Early years teachers are great physical, visual talkers!

One of the key principles of teaching in the Early Years is that bilingualism has an advantage and that as the first language it has a continuing and significant role in identity, learning and the acquisition of additional languages.