English as an Additional Language (EAL)

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Teaching and Learning for pupils with English as an additional language
Identifying the teaching context for EAL learners
Developing language and literacy for EAL learners
Resourcing the teaching of EAL learners

EAL supporting hardware and digital tools

Accessible technology to support bilingualism, speaking listening, reading/viewing and writing 

Harnessing the power of technology. Technology Enhanced Learning, Pim, C. NALDIC Journal. Spring 2020. 

Mobile 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 audio-visual 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. When required, soft keyboards can 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.  

Supporting Bilingualism - Mantra Lingua’s TalkingPEN technology (PENpal) and Kitabu bilingual e-books 

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 printed 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. 


The Kitabu dual-language ebook Library is a vast collection of audio-enabled dual-language books. Additionally, all ebooks contain follow-on activities including audio flash cards, matching pairs, label the parts, sequencing the story and a video questionnaire. An animated video of each story is provided in English with teachers notes available online for ideas and storyboards. 


Speaking and listening 

Portable audio recording devices such as Talking Pegs, Tins and Cards are perfect for supporting development of oral English for new to English and beginner EAL learners (as well as for maintaining first language too), 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


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. 


Tools like Natural Readers enable text to be read aloud in natural voices and accents in English and many other languages. 

Natural Readers Online 

Accessing texts, viewing content and supporting writing 

Certain software and plugins for operating systems/browsers offer a range of accessibility solutions for learners. Text-to speech synthesis bring texts alive for learners who are yet to acquire fluency in reading. Video content can be enhanced through the use of closed captions (in any language) and these can also be ripped to text files using online tools. Transcripts can also be summarised for easier access. 

Contextualised support for writing can also be provided within software/plugins such as writing frames, spelling and grammar checks, word prediction, translation and even vocabulary support via topic-based word banks. The ability to render text from speech through the in-built microphone is also natively incorporated into modern apps.  

Immersive Reader (Microsoft) - https://learn.microsoft.com/en-gb/training/educator-center/product-guides/immersive-reader/ 



Useful Apps: 

Read&Write (Texthelp), Clicker Docs (Cricksoft), Book Creator, Comic Life (Plasq) 


Vocabulary development 

Electronic dictionaries/thesauri have 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.  


There are many excellent free quiz making tools available: 



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. The camera can also integrate with translation technologies. 

Useful Apps: SayHi, iTranslate, Google Translate 

AI Tools 

AI can assist professionals in personalising materials and creating learning activities like DARTs, according to the Proficiency in English and interests of their target EAL learners. Pupils/students can utilise AI to help with their own learning at school, as well as in the home, alongside their parents/carers. A tool like ChatGPT can generate texts recursively within different genres and text types according to chat prompts; these can be input via the keyboard or as text-to-speech, using a microphone. AI tools can also be used in different languages, encouraging learners to use the full range of their multilingual repertoire. 



Rusmiyanto, R., Huriati, N., Fitriani, N., Tyas, N., Rofi’i, A., & Sari, M. (2023). The Role Of Artificial Intelligence (AI) In Developing English Language Learner’s Communication Skills. Journal on Education, 6(1), 750- 757. https://www.jonedu.org/index.php/joe/article/view/2990/2549 

Jiang R. (2022). How does artificial intelligence empower EFL teaching and learning nowadays? A review on artificial intelligence in the EFL context. Frontiers in psychology, 13, 1049401. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1049401 


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