Targeting EAL

Targeting EAL students

Your lesson should include activities that involve some speaking, some listening, some reading and some writing.

You have information about the students you teach who are EAL, use this at the planning stage to ensure that your lesson and its learning are pitched at the right level.  Ensure that the work is differentiated and that all your students can access the learning and carry out the designated tasks.

For students who are learning English as an additional language, your voice tone, body language and facial expression are particularly important visual clues.  They help to set the tone and temperature of the lesson for someone with only partial understanding. Be welcoming; make eye contact if possible; always try to speak to students as they enter the room.  Ensure that you speak to students before they leave, build self-esteem, help to make them feel that they have achieved their objective.

Many students may only just be learning English; however, they may speak several other languages. Find out and acknowledge prior learning and skill.  If students already have accessed other languages, they know the process and will gain English very quickly.  

EAL students need key visual clues within the classroom.  Try to start the lesson from the “concrete” and develop into the abstract. Use video, use pictures, use sound, use illustrations to help develop vocabulary and extend understanding.

Key words for learning need scaffolding – practice pronunciation, spelling and meaning.  EAL students need exercises that help them to use the words in context as opposed to being given the words in isolation.

Try to sit new learners with students, who are more articulate, create activities that develop students as peer educators.

Remember, speech develops more quickly than script especially if students have to learn a new alphabet as well.  You will need to scaffold the development of writing skills – use word banks, simple sentences, question and simple answer, writing frames, sentence starters, lots of exemplars, again so that students have visual clues and formulas to follow.

Constantly check for understanding, break up texts if reading with the class and provide short prose passages.

Ensure students are not put in the position of being over-whelmed because you have not matched their needs to the learning you want to develop.  A possible strategy for when completing a lengthy written piece of work would be to allow the EAL student to write in their home language.  This allows them to be involved in the lesson and as they progress it can be the first step for planning purposes in the writing; they will eventually re-draft/translate into English.