Early Years

Supporting Children with English as an additional Language

Supporting Children with English as an additional Language

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, e.g. “You’re jumping up the steps, you’re jumping up the steps.”.
  • They see visual prompts (pictures, props or gestures) that match what they are hearing, so maximise your visual clues and resources: e.g. “Go and put your coats on” (the adult adds the gesture of putting on a coat when s/he gives this instruction)
You can really help the language development of children if you seize on opportunities to do the following:
  • When you are playing alongside a child, describe what they are doing rather than asking lots of questions e.g. “You’ve chosen the purple pencil” rather than asking “What colour pencil have you chosen?”
  • 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. Describe fully what you are doing – for example, when setting the table in the role play area say “I’m putting the spoon next to the plate. I’m putting the cup in the middle of the table…”
  • Do not try to make a child speak. Listen, wait and watch! Play silently alongside the child for a while if you think that is what is needed.   When you do speak and make comments on what you or the child is doing, don’t be disheartened if the child does not say anything. The language will still be ‘going in’ and being absorbed.
  • 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 pictures, pre-reading with key words.
  • Have paper and felt tip pens to hand so that you can draw something that the child hears others talking about but does not know what it is, e.g. a spider.Read more

ICAN

 

 

 

 

'Talk Together' guides are available to download in a range of languages. They are designed to help parents help their children learn to talk.

https://ican.org.uk/media/2386/talk-together-2020.pdf (English)

‘Talk Together’ in other languages (select fourth option).

I CAN EAL fact sheet

National Literacy Trust

National Literacy Trust – Understanding bilingualism in the Earl Years

NLT have produced a series of bilingual quick tips for parents and practitioners to help children develop good talking and listening skills. It features a range of leaflets like watching TV, sharing a book, dummie awareness etc, in a broad variety of languages. Copies can be downloaded and photocopied free of charge to share with families. 

The NLT’s Time Together’booklet is a colourful and easy-to-read guide that is full of suggestions for how parents can support their young child's learning at home. It has been translated into eighteen different languages for you to share with the multilingual families in your setting or community.

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