English as an Additional Language (EAL)

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EAL supporting hardware and digital tools

Mantra Lingua’s TalkingPEN technology (PENpal) http://uk.mantralingua.com/penpal-eal

PENpal is a portable digital audio player and recording device. It can support learning through teacher guided activities as well as small group collaborative tasks. As an audio player the device interfaces with published bilingual materials such as books, learning charts and dictionaries. As an audio recorder the device enables audio recordings to be made onto Mantra’s catalogue of bilingual materials as well as sticky labels that can be affixed to any surface.

Portable audio recording devices

Devices such as Talking Pegs, Tins and Cards are perfect for supporting development of oral language for new to English and beginner EAL learners. These devices record clearly and enable learners to playback their contributions in a non-threatening environment. Through playback they can more easily spot mistakes and improve their pronunciation.

Pupils/students can also use them to rehearse vocabulary and chunks of language in preparation for more presentational types of oral activity. Talking Photo Albums include the additional functionality of linking oral recordings with a visual dimension and are particularly useful for supporting talk for writing. Talking Products - http://www.talkingproducts.com TTS-Group - http://www.tts-group.co.uk

Tablet devices

Tablet devices (iPads, Android and Windows-based) have tremendous potential for supporting EAL learners because they promote multi-modal learning through clearly rendered text, high quality audovisual elements and kinaesthetic, gesture-based interactivity (see also Interactive Activities for story telling apps). Their gesture-based mode of operation may be supportive of learners who are unfamiliar with the use of complicated operating systems, keyboards and mice.

Text-to speech synthesis bring texts alive for learners who are yet to acquire fluency in reading. The ability to render text from speech through the in-built microphone is also natively incorporated into modern apps. Keyboards can also be adjusted for the use of languages other than English. Front and rear facing cameras also enable learners to incorporate a range of external media into cross-curricular projects and facilitate EAL learners producing outcomes beyond a purely mono-modal written output. Contextualised support for writing can be provided within apps such as spelling and grammar checks, word prediction, translation and even vocabulary support via topic-based word banks

Useful Apps: Clicker Docs (Cricksoft), Read&Write (Texthelp)

Scanning Pens

Scanning pens, such as C-Pen, can support access to printed text.  A user scans the relevant text with the pen which provides an audio rendition via text-to-speech as well as offering dictionary definitions (primary and secondary phase options available) and in-built translation. There are currently 3 different versions of C-Pen: Exam Reader, ReaderPen and DictionaryPen.


Electronic dictionaries/thesauri

This type of technology has resonance for supporting students across the curriculum - particularly older, more advanced EAL learners. Electronic dictionaries/thesauri provide support for spelling, word meanings and vocabulary development. For students to make the most of dictionaries/thesauri they will need sufficiently well-developed English to make sense of the suggestions returned by the software, otherwise they may be overwhelmed by the multitude of choices presented to them.

Dictionary.com – www.dictionary.com

Translation tools

Hardware such as portable digital translators can be genuinely useful for older learners, as they can provide instant translation for keywords and common phrases, so long as the user can make sensible decisions about which translations make the most sense contextually.

Portable digital translators - http://www.ectaco.co.uk

Online translation tools/apps are potentially much more powerful as they do not rely upon predictable in-built translations but can work on completely free text. Those that render text on screen will only be useful for those with well-developed reading proficiency in L1 in order to make sense of the translation. Modern apps can utilise oral input/output for two-way language translation – the app ‘listens’ for oral input in one language, translates it on screen, and then uses text-to-speech to read it out in high quality synthesised voice in the second language.

Useful apps: SayHi, iTranslate, Google Translate

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