I am going to work in a school with a high number of EAL learners. What are some key elements I need to consider?

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I am going to work in a school with a high number of EAL learners. What are some key elements I need to consider?

It’s hard to even start to highlight the challenges of teaching EAL students in such a short article but there are a few key areas to consider:

•Including learners of all cultures into the classroom environment and the school

It’s not easy to adjust to the conventions of another culture. Being in a new environment can mean feeling like a permanent stranger in an unfamiliar place. It’s possible for a child new  to English  to suddenly feel unsuccessful at almost every task. This can result in feelings of inadequacy and frustration. The customs in which they grew up may no longer have significance and new, unfamiliar customs unexpectedly have priority. More advanced learners usually already have a good understanding of culture, however, it is important not assume this and to include the home culture of the EAL learner.

•Assessing their needs alongside the needs of more advanced native speakers

Assessment in English speaking schools are often geared towards more advanced learners. It’s important to consider what is appropriate for learners who are less-advance in English.

•The challenge of learning a new writing system

New writing system can prove an additional challenge to the EAL learner.  Some new arrivals appear to cope well with a new writing system, especially if their home language has many similarities but, without training, issues can occur with children acquiring a patchy understanding of direction, letter formation, phonological processing, lexical processing, orthographical regularities, punctuation, creativity and functions. These 8 elements, in no particular order, are based on Cook (p426-430, 2005) outline of how one might learn to use a second language writing system.

•Catering for all the learners in the class, whatever their level of English

It is easy to set objectives too high for the English language learners. Remember that every child should be successful from the most advance at English to those in the beginning stages.

•Providing support in the use of effective language learning strategies

It is important to consider the tools that a child can use to help them learn a language. It’s our role as teachers to provide guidance in how to learn English.

•Ensure resources are supportive for EAL learners

There is a wealth of resources available to support learners of EAL. These can include authentic resources, ticket/ magazines, photos, newspapers, menus, tourist brochures, personal documents e.g. passport, school reports, tapes with songs and stories, poems, posters, catalogues, postcards, story props, dual language texts, big books, magnetic letters, word games, puppets, objects, published language games, homemade games, simple worksheets, story sequencing cards and  story packs… to name just a few! Make sure resources are easy to use, appropriate and functional.

Caroline Scott
Author of Teaching Children as an Additional Language: A programme for 7-11 year olds &
Teaching English as an Additional Language: A Whole School Resource

If you are interested in our course on class teaching with different levels of EAL learners click here!

Across Cultures

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