English as an Additional Language (EAL)

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How to use this MESH guide for EAL

This guide has been co-authored by Naomi Flynn, an Associate Professor of Primary English Education at the University Of Reading Institute Of Education, working with Chris Pim and Sarah Coles who are specialist advisory teachers with Hampshire’s Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service (EMTAS). It was constructed with the support of teachers in primary and secondary schools in Hampshire, selected for their existing expertise in teaching EAL learners, who used the guidance for action research during the spring and summer of 2015. You are reading the updated and revised version published in 2019.  You can contact us through n.flynn@reading.ac.uk

We use the term EAL (English as an additional language) because this is in current use in the UK, but readers can assume that this refers to any child using a language other than English in the home. This might be a new arrival with no spoken English or a child fully proficient in English but using other languages outside school.

The guide is written principally to support teachers and learning support assistants working with English language learners in any educational setting and who are at any stage of proficiency in the learning of English. It will also support senior leaders in their strategic response to the EAL learners in their schools. As with all MESH guides it seeks to share knowledge with professionals in order to support the growth of evidence-informed practice that works in promoting the best in pupil outcomes.

This guide chiefly supports the teaching and learning of EAL learners in terms of their language and literacy development, because these skills allow them access to learning across the curriculum. There is deliberate and considerable overlap between the sections of the guide in acknowledgement of the interdependence of language and literacy development. Thus readers will find it helpful to read sections other than those that appear at first to match their interest. In particular it is important that the sections on the left hand side of the guide which present the foundations of second language acquisition theory and the stages of pupils’ proficiency are understood to underpin the practical suggestions presented in other sections.

The guide is of use to practitioners in primary (5 -11 years) and secondary schools (11 – 16 years). These English terms are used throughout but readers from other countries can assume an approximate match with school ages elsewhere. However, it is useful to note that in England the statutory age for pupils to start in full time education is 5 years, and thus there will be some age-related differences in expectation for language use and written outcomes in other countries. More useful for all readers is to consider pupils’ stage of English proficiency when reading the guide and to note where we make age-appropriate adaptations. The design of the guide was driven by the wishes expressed by teachers taking part in its construction We welcome feedback on how well the guide works for busy teachers seeking evidence-informed practical ideas to support development of their teaching for EAL learners.

Original guide sponsored by the University of Winchester, this revision sponsored by The University of Reading and Hampshire EMTAS.