Supporting ideas for EAL
Supporting ideas for EAL
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.
- When a child makes a mistake, do not draw attention to it. Simply reply to the child using the correct language yourself. If a child says “We wented swimming”, you could reply “You went swimming, did you?” The child immediately hears the correct language but is not made to feel that they got it wrong.
- When a child says something, extend their vocabulary in your response. e.g. Child says “cow”, you respond “The cow is eating.” Child says “I’ve made a tunnel.” You respond “Yes, you’ve made a long, dark tunnel.”.
- 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. Seize on opportunities throughout the day to sing songs and rhymes – e.g. ‘See Saw Marjorie Daw’ when the children are on the seesaw; ‘One Two Three Four Five once I caught a fish alive’ when playing with plastic fish in the water tray… The rhyme, rhythm and repetition will help children to pick up the language and over time they may start to join in.
- Encourage parents to strengthen and maintain the home language in the home. A strong home language will support the development of English and the acquisition of new words.
- Use a buddy system to translate key written and spoken messages to the child.
- Dual language books and posters. Also, dual language books available through Bookstart.
- Invite parents to add labels in home language to displays or number line if script is different (will be challenge for others!).
- “See me here” feel welcome e.g. in photos, home corner, skin colour crayons, festivals included in child chosen play.
- Remember to praise the language contributions of the children and relay the achievements to their parents.