English as an Additional Language (EAL)

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Spoken English for beginner EAL learners

Pupils with a developing fluency in spoken English are likely to be beginning to read and write in English, but a continuing focus on the development of spoken language remains crucial in order that explicit knowledge about the way that English works is introduced (Krashen, 1986; Swain 2000).

Teachers supporting beginner EAL learners need to know:

  • How the structures and sounds in the pupil’s first language are different from those in English
  • Continued teaching of phonics is necessary to build up pupils’ sensitivity to the English sound system which will support correct articulation of phonemes (and therefore support later spelling for writing)
  • Pupils will need explicit grammar-related targets to accelerate correct language use

Beginner EAL learners’ spoken language use may have the following characteristics:

  • Able to communicate with some confidence with peers and adults but makes grammatical errors and has some problems with word order
  • Has limited control over tenses and often uses present tense
  • Makes errors in using pronouns (he/she)
  • May leave out determiners if these are not present in first language (the/a/an)
  • Has limited vocabulary and may substitute known words/phrases in order to communicate meaning when vocabulary is unknown
  • Able to retell a simple story using a structure and visual aids

Spoken language activities for beginner EAL learners:

  • Speaking frames which focus on individual language needs e.g. development of correct use of past tense; understanding use of determiners
  • Opportunities for meaningful interaction and collaborative dialogue with peers and adults within a clear learning context (Swain, 2000; Lucas, Villegas and Freedson-Gonzalez, 2008)
  • Opportunities to speak about aspects of home and school that particularly interest them
  • Use of picture books for oral story re-telling
  • Word games that focus on specific aspects of language and literacy development (Cameron and Besser, 2004)
  • Using talking pens and talking books (see section on Hardware)
  • Pre-teaching of vocabulary to support new concept learning
  • Role play that asks pupils to assume a particular character
  • Playing board games

The following sites are useful for resources: http://www.racingtoenglish.co.uk/about.html

and https://ealresources.bell-foundation.org.uk/teachers/great-ideas-speaking-and-writing-frames

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