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What does EAL stand for?
EAL stands for English as an Additional Language. It’s one of several acronyms used to describe the teaching of English where it is not a person’s first language. This is the acronym most commonly used in UK primary schools, but some may use a different version such as ESL (English as a Second Language).
What is English as an Additional Language?
So, what is English as an Additional Language and what does it mean for children? The meaning of EAL is pretty simple – it refers to teaching English to students who are native speakers of another language. Since students may be fluent in several other languages, we use the term ‘additional’ instead of ‘second’.
EAL learners may have varying levels of English knowledge, with some children learning from scratch, and others having some preexisting knowledge but perhaps speaking another language at home, as well as English.
Who are EAL learners?
The term EAL learners refers to learners who speak a language other than English as their first language and need additional support to develop a proficiency in English. EAL learners can come from diverse and multilingual backgrounds. Some may have lived in different countries before, and others may have not, simply speaking a language other than English in their homes.
EAL learners are not all the same and will come into school with varying levels of English language skills. Therefore, teachers need to be prepared to utilise a range of teaching techniques depending on the needs of each child.
EAL learners are often faced with the task of learning a new language at the same time as keeping up with their learning in line with the National Curriculum teaching. Since the National Curriculum is taught in the language that they are learning, EAL learners will face a unique set of challenges whilst they are building up their confidence in English.
As well as teaching children about the English language and any associated cultural and social norms, it’s also very important that we acknowledge and accept the other cultural influences and languages in a child’s life. Encouraging learners to share information about their native language or home country. This is a good way to help children feel involved, appreciated and acknowledged within their school community!