Importance of supporting EAL pupils during school closures

Posted by iChild, May 18, 2020 10:52 AM

By FlashAcademy®

Flash Academy

Since 23rd March, education has transitioned from the traditional classroom setting to the dining room table, from face-to-face teaching to Zoom calls. Distance learning has well and truly become the ‘new normal’, aside from the schools that have stayed open for children of key workers and vulnerable children. But where does this leave children with English as an Additional language (EAL)?

EAL pupils account for 21% of primary school children in the UK, with some pupil populations covering as many as 40 different home languages. As this statistic continues to rise, teacher recruitment and retention is on the decline, resulting in fewer teachers per pupil and in turn, a shortage of EAL expertise in schools.

As mass home-learning continues, these pupils may be more vulnerable to missing out on education. There are now fewer opportunities for pupils to engage with work in English. They no longer have the physical support of the teacher or TA and adjusting to distance learning means educators were ‘starting from scratch’. The Department for Education recently listed recommended education providers, and yet nothing is listed specific to English learners - a group who risk being left behind the most.
Researchers at the University of Reading have raised this issue and addressed that for many families, school is where their children speak English and home is where they speak their native language. So, how can we support both parents and teachers to help engage and progress English language developments from home?

We are consistently seeing EAL learners at a disadvantage due to limited or no internet, IT and access to other devices, especially where parents are also working from home. Setting worksheets which are tailored to their home language but also curriculum aligned are crucial. FlashAcademy® has created a raft of free home learning resources for EAL including project packs, maths & literacy, creative writing and even a support pack for parents.
One of the projects includes an EAL pupil podcast opportunity, offering learners the chance to practise their speaking skills at their own pace. There are over 30 different topics to discuss – e.g. what is the best thing about being an EAL learner and tell us a funny story about making a mistake with language – giving pupils the chance to not only practise speaking but also listening, reading, and reflecting, away from the pressures of the classroom setting.

While it is important EAL learners are exposed to a broad range of good English language models throughout lockdown – visuals, flashcards, scaffolding, speaking & listening activities etc. – it is essential they use their home language to develop language skills, too. For parents, reading books together or asking their child what they are learning in their home language, they are strengthening their language skills in both languages because many of these skills are transferable between languages. Hence, it is encouraged for families to get together and make conscious use of their home language.

The absence of a collaborative classroom environment has, naturally, raised concerns on the impact of English language development. If you are looking for extending support for your pupils with EAL, check out the FlashAcademy® platform. Not only are there hundreds of free resources to download, but you can also get a free trial to their app! The first curriculum-mapped resource that teaches English from 45 home languages – via smartphone, tablet or PC - in a fun and engaging way for pupils, whilst delivering real-time data insights to teaching teams.

Visit their website for more details.

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