Early Years

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

‘For children whose home language is not English, providers must take reasonable steps to provide opportunities for children to develop and use their home language in play and learning, supporting their language development at home. Providers must also ensure that children have sufficient opportunities to learn and reach a good standard in English language during the EYFS’
The statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, DfE (2017)

As soon as a child with little or no English joins a setting or school there is much that can be done to ensure that their home language is valued and used and to immediately begin developing their English language.   These strategies can help a child to settle and feel at home and be fully included in the life of the setting or school.

Supporting Children with EAL in the EYFS
  • Children learn English when they hear the language that goes with what they are doing or looking at, so do plenty of parallel and self-talk (commenting on what you or they are doing) rather than asking questions.
  • Children also learn English when they see visual prompts (pictures, props or gestures) that match what they are hearing, so maximise your visual clues and resources.
  • Children with EAL often speak for the first time when joining in with familiar songs and rhymes, where there is ‘safety in numbers’. Ensure this is a strong part of your practice.
  • Focus on just a few new words in any activity, rather than children being bombarded with a ‘sea of words’, e.g. before starting a new story, introduce three of the keywords with their pictures.
  • Encourage parents to strengthen and maintain the home language in the home. A strong home language will support the development of English.

You can find information about our bespoke training and support packages, in-house training opportunities and training courses on our training pages

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