EAL

Integrated literacy activities

Certain activities will enable multilingual learners to be more productively involved with their peers, ensuring curriculum–related language is made comprehensible (Krashen, 1981) and providing meaningful contexts for language and literacy development (Gibbons, 2002; Schmidt, 2008). See also the section on Interactive Activities for additional resources that support integrated literacy activities.

Integrated activities help language and literacy development for multilingual learners in a variety of different ways:

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Spoken English for advanced EAL learners

Pupils with advanced fluency in spoken English are often left without support because their conversational competence masks possible limited vocabulary for curriculum purposes. Pupils with advanced fluency in English still need support with widening their vocabulary and with understanding how to choose the best ways to express themselves (Cummins, 1999).

Teachers supporting advanced EAL learners need to know that:

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Spoken English for beginner EAL learners

In keeping with the advice throughout this guide, teachers are exhorted to view multilingualism as an asset. Thus,Beginner English learners should not be assessed only in term of limited English. They already hold understanding about language and how it works from the development of their heritage language (Cummins 1979; Baker, 2011). They are potentially gifted linguists whose skills are cause for celebration. 

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Spoken English for new to English learners

Before you read this section you will find it useful to read the sections Theories of additional language learning and Stages of additional language learning. Take a look also at the Talk Rich Teaching Project which describes a project where teachers highlighted oracy to promote their EAL learners language and literacy development successfully.

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Key principles and teaching strategies

Consideration of the following key principles needed for successful multilingual pedagogy will support teachers in making informed choices in their teaching strategies. More detail about all of the principles can be found in other sections of this guide and they align with section one’s reference to culturally and linguistically responsive teaching. The following lists are supported by a range of research with EAL learners which can be found summarised by Lucas, Villegas and Freedson-Gonzalez (2008).

Key Principles for Multilingual Learners

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The challenges facing EAL learners

Multilingual learners face a triple challenge in their learning. They have to acquire both colloquial and academic English; they must develop the knowledge, skills and understanding of that curriculum; they must also overcome the culturally-bound aspect of schooling. EAL learners, particularly new arrivals, may struggle in these three areas for a while as they learn to catch up with their peers. (NALDIC, 2009)

Social and cultural challenges:

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The benefits of learning in more than one language

There are a range of studies commenting on the potential benefits of bi/multilingualism, but there is some controversy around their assertions. Thus, while we acknowledge that there may be a benefit in engaging with this research (for an overview see Adesope et al, 2010), the list below refers to commonly accepted benefits for teachers to consider. Central to these is the recognition that multilingualism is an asset.

  1. Multilingualism is an asset that affords potential to engage with multiple communities and access to a wider world view.

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Stages of additional language learning

It is important to note that in planning for EAL learners, attention to their stage of language and literacy development is more important than relating their attainment to curriculum-led levels which are designed for monolingual learners. Measuring pupils only by their developing English is a deficit approach which ignores heritage languages and does not take account of multilingualism as an asset.

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How to use this MESH guide for EAL

This guide has been co-authored by Naomi Flynn, Professor of Multilingual Education at the University of Reading Institute of Education, working with Chris Pim (EAL expert author) and Sarah Coles, Director of 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. It was revised in 2019 and again in 2023.

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Teaching and Learning for pupils with English as an additional language

Teaching and Learning for pupils with English as an additional language

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