EAL Support

We can do a lot to support children who are learning EAL in our Early Years settings. These days there are many instances of bilingualism and multilingualism within our settings, and it is our job to support these children in communicating effectively with adults and peers, and to ensure they are progressing well within all areas of learning. At present, data shows that children with EAL under perform in the EYFSP compared with children whose first language is English. We therefore need to follow the specific guidance in the EYFS:

“1.8 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, ensuring children are ready to benefit from the opportunities available to them when they begin Year 1. When assessing communication, language and literacy skills, practitioners must assess children’s skills in English. If a child does not have a strong grasp of English language, practitioners must explore the child’s skills in the home language with parents and/or carers, to establish whether there is cause for concern about language delay.”

Top Tips for EAL
Useful EAL Links & Resources
Training Available

Top Tips to supporting children learning EAL

Visual Aids

The use of visual aids are highly recommended in communicating with EAL children. Images and objects are useful in engaging the child without the use of language. For children with little or no English, practitioners can create an “objects of reference” bag. The bag can contain objects or images that are used in the setting daily to represent specific activities or routines such as a nappy, a paint brush or a cup. The practitioner can use the resources to show the child before carrying out the action. This will allow the child to gain an understanding of the routine and begin to associate actions first with an image or object, before then acquiring the correct word to match the action.

Positively encourage home language

It is important to remember that a child’s home language is integral to a child’s cultural and individual identity, and should be encouraged to be used and developed in the setting and at home. According to research from the Department for Education, home language skills can easily be transferred to new languages and therefore will help to support a child’s understanding of language. Work closely with the child’s parents/carers to ensure that the home language is valued as this will be key to ensuring a partnership that successfully supports a child with EAL.

Learning through play

A child will express themselves best through doing something that they enjoy. Use play opportunities to interact with an EAL child. Facial expressions and eye contact are a key factor in communication, helping the child to feel appreciated and important. Practitioners should allow the child to lead the play, offering key words such as “car” or “cat” where appropriate. Using noises or object sounds such as “choo choo” will help the child to understand and interact vocally without the pressure of using their language.

Lots of praise

Children respond well to lots of positive praise and stickers are a great tool to encourage children. Using visual gestures such as clapping and positive facial expressions will help empower a child who is attempting to use a new language. It will encourage them to continue trying and give them confidence. Self esteem and confidence are a key factor in learning a new language and the more praise a child gains for having a go, the more the child will be willing to try.