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Helping learners who have English as an Additional Language (EAL)

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In my new placement there is a 80% EAL contingent in the school, primarily Polish, but some others thrown in for variety and spice!  As with all children the ability level is varied from 0 words of English to fluent, so although in my practice I use a varety of methods, today I want to concentrate on the real basics.

Firstly, be clear.  Do not use 10 words when you can be clear with 2!

Go and get your coat and bag, don’t forget your bottle and jumper or lunchbox! 

can be clearer as:

Coat and bag. 

and after that is complete:

jumper and bottle.

Which I would always say with Makaton signs too.

Secondly, don’t use a picture when a real object is available.  It means more.

Thirdly, explain, explain, explain.  When reading a story, ask all the children what words mean e.g. who can explain the word “crooked” to me?  “What does her face tell you?”  “Can you show me an angry face?  Upset face? Happy face?”  

Fourthly, if you are teaching phonics, make sure you explain words to them and don’t present them all as words they should know,  Many children with English as a first language benefit from this too!

Fifthly, Actions speak louder than words!  I personally love Makaton and use it constantly, if you have another method then use it, but some will pick up on the actions way before the words.  [This is a great way to introduce High Frequency Words too for all languages]

Sixth, be patient.  Mondays are hard as they have spent all weekend in native language mode.  Especially after holidays.  They will start off confused, but they will get there!

and lastly, try a few key words in their language.  In my experience the children are much more keen to try out English when I’ve asked them to teach me some of their words.

Some phonetic Polish that I of course use with makaton signs!

chesht = Hello

Yakta mosh = How are you?

Ya stem dobjer = I’m fine!

Prosher = please

dyenkoyay = thanks

parpar = bye!

Do you have any tips to share?


Author: Zoe

for more info see my all about me page! tweet @zoedidthat

One thought on “Helping learners who have English as an Additional Language (EAL)

  1. I love these!
    As I’ve learned 8 languages by now I know I learn by repetition and association. When learning Chinese i would make up stories to explain the characters and use other mnemonic techniques to remember tones. So my tip would be have the children make up silly explanations if they struggle with a word, the sillier the better!
    I had a professor once who claimed we learned best if we were laughing, made for some very funny lectures and I remember so much from them compared to others!

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