Key Principles of Additional Language Acquisition
EAL pupils are entitled to the full National Curriculum programme of study and all their teachers have a responsibility for teaching English as well as other subject content.
Access to learning requires attention to words and meanings embodied in each curriculum area. Meanings and understanding cannot be assumed, but must be made explicit.
Language is central to our identity. Therefore, the home language of all pupils and staff should be recognised and valued. Pupils should be encouraged to maintain their home language.
Although many pupils acquire the ability to communicate on a day to day basis in English quite quickly, the level of language needed for academic study is much deeper and more detailed, and can require continuing support for up to ten years.
Language develops best when used in purposeful contexts across the curriculum. The language demands of learning tasks need to be identified and included in planning. Teaching and support staff play a crucial role in modelling uses of language. Knowledge and skills developed in learning the first language aid the acquisition of additional languages. A clear distinction should be made between EAL and Special Educational Needs.
Five Stage Model for Language Acquisition
A. New to English
A child may:
- Use first language for learning and other purposes.
- Remain silent in the classroom.
- Copy/repeat some words and phrases.
- Understand some everyday English expressions but have minimal or no English literacy.
- Follow day-to-day social communication in English.
- Begin to use spoken English for social purposes.
- Understand simple instructions and follow narrative/accounts with visual support.
- Develop some skills in reading and writing
- Become familiar with some subject specific vocabulary.
A child at this stage needs significant support.
B. Early Acquisition
A child may;
- Participate in learning activities with increasing independence.
- Express themselves orally in English but structural inaccuracies are still apparent.
- Requires ongoing support in literacy, particularly for understanding text and writing.
- Follow abstract concepts and more complex written English. A child at this stage requires support to access the curriculum fully.
C. Developing Competence
- A child may:
- Developing oral English well, allowing successful engagement in activities across the curriculum.
- Read and understand a wide variety of text.
- Written English may lack complexity.
- Demonstrate evidence of errors in grammatical structure.
A child at this stage needs support to access subtle nuances of meaning, to refine English usage, and to develop abstract vocabulary.
A child at this stage can operate across the curriculum to a level of competence nearing to that of a pupil who uses English as his/her first language. They may still make grammatical errors and need support to develop their linguistic skills.
A child at this stage can operate across the curriculum to a level of competence equivalent to that of a pupil who uses English as his/her first language.
All EAL pupils are assessed in line with the school’s assessment procedures at West Thornton and a portfolio completed by class teachers.
Staff have the opportunity to discuss pupils’ progress, needs and targets via weekly planning meetings with senior leaders. Progress in the acquisition of English is regularly assessed and monitored.
Assessment methods are checked for cultural bias which may cause results to be inaccurate and action is taken to remove any that is identified.
Consideration and sensitivity is given to the appropriateness of testing EAL pupils at the earlier stages of English acquisition.
Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
- Core EAL Skill Targets for EAL pupils are appropriate, challenging and reviewed on a half termly basis.
- Planning for EAL pupils incorporates both curriculum and EAL specific objectives.
- Staff regularly observe, assess and record information about pupils’ developing use of language.
Teaching Strategies and Pedagogical Approaches
The curriculum is personalised and this helps the children to use their prior knowledge and experience. The speaking and listening is always the starting point of a new topic or activity and writing is always the last step. The grammatical rules and the sentence structures are taught within the context of the different topics and genres. Visual resources are used to aid their learning. The teaching at West Thornton Primary School is based on the Early years outcomes and the National Curriculum for Key Stage 1 and 2. The EAL Core Skill targets are based on the level of the pupil’s reading, writing, maths and speaking and listening across the curriculum for pupils. Communication is the main principle in the EAL lessons. The central task is to create a communicative climate where language acquisition can take place naturally. The skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing are not artificially separated, but are integrated in a meaningful total experience. In the centre is speaking, which, of course involves listening. The children communicate with each other through paired work and group work and this way they improve their listening as well. Through speaking exercises such as interviews, storytelling and drama, the children gain verbal routine, enthusiasm and confidence. The key vocabulary is taught at the beginning of a new topic and the children learn and practise grammatical structures and sentence building using the topic vocabulary.
Our school provides appropriate materials such as dual language textbooks, dictionaries and visual key word lists. Videos, maps, iPad Apps and story props also give crucial support. Displays and resources reflect linguistic and cultural diversity.
Personalisation of Learning to Meet a Pupil’s Needs
The EAL teaching at West Thornton Primary School focuses on individual pupil’s needs and abilities by the adults. Differentiated planning is put into place to support the EAL children across the curriculum. In Maths the planning is differentiated according to the children’s previous education and knowledge and targets are being set to fill the gaps in their knowledge.
Staff use support strategies to ensure curriculum access for Pupil’s Needs:
- Collaborative group work
- Enhanced opportunities for speaking and listening
- Effective role models of speaking, reading and writing
- Additional verbal support-repetition, alternative phrasing, peer support
- Additional visual support, e.g. posters, objects, non-verbal clues, pictures, demonstration, use of gesture, etc.
- Bilingual resources, e.g. dictionaries, on-line support, bilingual staff/pupils, texts, key word lists
- Writing frames, directed activities related to texts
- Opportunities for role play
- Regular feedback from staff
- Opportunities to focus on the cultural knowledge explicit or implicit in texts
- Discussion provided before and during reading and writing activities, using preferred language where appropriate
- Learning progression moves from concrete to abstract
- Further support for pupils’ language development is provided outside the formal curriculum, e.g. in assemblies, school clubs, homework clubs, etc.
At West Thornton we encourage parental and community involvement by:
- Providing a welcoming induction process for newly arrived pupils and their families/carers.
- Use translators and interpreters, where appropriate and available, to ensure good links are made between the Family and the school.
- Utilise Language Ambassadors to support newly arrived parents.
- Identify linguistic, cultural and religious background of pupils and establish contact with the wider Community.
- Celebrate and acknowledge the achievements of EAL pupils.
- Recognise and encouraging the use of first language for developing positive links between school and home.
- Support parents, so they can help their children at home.