The importance of an EAL program in a British school

 

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It is well known that sending your child to a British school can be rather challenging for both parents and students if the students are not English speakers. They can encounter all sorts of barriers, from the difficulty of not being able to express thoughts to the lack of interaction with peers, because of the language background. So, can we refer to the EAL program as to an essential one? How can this program improve students’ life and encourage them to enjoy the advantages of studying in a British school?
The English as an Additional/Second Language program is designed for learners whose first language is not English. They usually go to English speaking schools, so they have to keep up with both the curriculum subjects and learning the new language.

Here are some activities which can be used for the EAL students to help them cope with this English learning process:
     1. Matching words with images
This is the easiest and quickest method of initiating EAL learners into acquiring new vocabulary. Images are world-wide known, even though in the students’ mother tongue are called differently. They simply project the images in their minds and associate them with their meaning in English. Every school should have an “EAL classroom” where students can find labels for all the objects there (window, door, walls, chairs, tables, paper clips etc.). Seeing them every day helps their mind setting a word-image correlation.
     2. Peer to peer discussions
Socialising is an important part for every child’s development. Regardless the language they speak, children will always play together. It is the teacher’s responsibility to use that as a tool for engaging non-English speakers into games and open discussions in which they could practice new vocabulary. They would see it as a game and will not be drown back because of their inability of speaking fluently or grammatically correct.
     3. Proper resources
Having the right resources or attributing proper tasks to EAL learners is mandatory. We cannot expect them to complete difficult worksheets that require a vast English knowledge from the first days. Also, the objectives and requirements for them should be very clear, so they would know what to look for. Make sure you introduce new vocabulary, but also take time to practice with them. Rushing them into learning new words faster will not guarantee you a long term acquisition. Listening is an important step in their development as English learners, so use all sorts of songs and videos which can help them improve their listening and speaking skills.
Here are some suitable sites for EAL learners: https://en.islcollective.com/, https://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/, https://www.eslkidstuff.com/, https://www.eslprintables.com/
     4. Use their native languages
It is very important for EAL students to keep in touch with their mother tongue. To be honest, it defines them and makes them aware of their roots. So, using their native language is a good opportunity to bond the new language to the former one. If there are similarities between the two of them, you should encourage students to use them to learn new words more easily. Also, every Friday you can organise thematic parties from their native countries. They can share information with the entire class about specific food, customs, clothes and so on. It would be a good opportunity to get them know each other better by sharing cultural backgrounds.
     5. Involving parents in the EAL process
Being at school is not enough for a non-English speaker who tries to grasp the meaning of new words and use them in different contexts. This process should be continued by parents at home during their usual activities or even in their cars while driving to school in the mornings. The parents should start simple conversations in English and let them create their own stories or answers. It is not necessary for them to speak it fluently or to use grammar structures (it will come in time), just to be open for discussions and willing to use the new language more often.

 

Author: miss Bianca C.

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