EAL Matters is an online only publication which is intended to stimulate professional discussion and to contribute to the theory, policy and practice of teaching pupils for whom English is an additional language.
NALDIC members can access EAL Matters below. Non-members can purchase the publications from our shop.
EAL Matters 1 (2015)
Comparing the Measuring Stick to the Measured: Supporting EAL Pupils’ Writing Development
Johanna Funk | Charles Darwin University
This article reports a study conducted in an inner London primary school . The study, conducted in 2011, explores the extent to which the school supports the early development of ‘English as an additional language’ (EAL) pupils’ writing. The school had seen a downward trend in attainment. What is not clear is whether the cause of this decline was due to the issue of English being an additional language or dialect for the majority of the pupils and / or whether curriculum, assessment structures and instructional practices were a contributing factor to the perceived failures.
Literature and theories relating to bilingualism, EAL approaches and motivation are presented within the context of a case study conducted at the school. Teacher interview transcripts were coded for theoretical references. In addition to this form of data collection, other prevailing themes were identified in this and curriculum document analysis to ascertain and portray the possible reasons for these low results.
Some of the findings from the study suggest that while the National Curriculum is supportive of the need to adapt instruction to pupils’ needs, an inconsistent approach to local curriculum provision, and national assessment practices, and the lack of autonomy felt by some teachers may explain the observed underachievement in attainment. Practical recommendations for more supportive and progressive approaches are suggested.
EAL/D, English as another language or dialect, EAL; English as another language as used in England and Wales, ESL, LBOTE, Language backgrounds other than English, National Curriculum, Standardized tests, language acquisition.
The Impact of Synthetic Phonics on Teaching Children with English as an Additional Language to Read – a Case Study
This research examines the impact of synthetic phonics on teaching learners with English as an Additional Language (EAL) to read. Synthetic phonics involves children learning phoneme-grapheme correspondences and then blending phonemes to decode words when reading. The aim of the study is to evaluate how effective this strategy is in teaching these children to learn to read and whether it has application for other learners of English.
Synthetic phonics is the mandatory approach to teaching reading in English primary schools. However, studies of how this approach helps EAL learners seem to be rare.
This research into synthetic phonics and EAL learners took the form of a qualitative case study. The case studies involved four EAL children aged between six and ten years old who attended a primary school in the south-east of England. The children were from the Czech and Slovak Roma community who reside in the area. The study also involved adult participants who worked as teachers or teaching assistants in the school.
The research methods used included semi-structured interviews with the adults, structured interviews with the children, miscue analyses of audio recordings to identify the children’s reading strategies when reading aloud, and lesson observations.
The results appeared to indicate that synthetic phonics was useful in teaching children to decode and provided them with a useful strategy, particularly when they already understood the meaning of the decoded word. However, the evidence also suggested that the children’s limited lexical knowledge impeded their comprehension, and the ability to decode did not help. Furthermore, the study illustrated the challenges children encountered when trying to recall the correspondence between phonemes and graphemes.
The conclusion reached is that the needs of EAL children learning to read are complex and that the development of their lexical knowledge is paramount if they are to be enabled to become successful readers. However, if taught in conjunction with a language rich curriculum, this systematic strategy could be useful in developing reading skills for the growing number of young learners of English attending language schools around the world.
EAL Matters 2 | The Hampshire Young Interpreter Scheme: a coming of age (2017)
Astrid Dinneen née Gouwy | Hampshire EMTAS
The Young Interpreter Scheme consists of training for pupils aged 5-16 to help new arrivals with English as an Additional Language (EAL) feel welcome and settled in their new school environment (Hampshire EMTAS, 2014).
This article reviews the relevant literature in order to clarify the context around children and young people acting as interpreters, and describes the scheme.
It then focuses on a research project – from its methodology to its findings and reviews the implications for the scheme, practitioners and the wider EAL community.
Supporting Classroom Teacher Talk in a Multilingual Classroom (2017)
Robert McGill | Teacher of English as an Additional Language, South Ayrshire
The article is based on a research project conducted as part of an MSc Chartered Teacher studies programme. The Action Research EAL Matters 3 project investigated oral language class teacher practices and the particular ways in which EAL teacher support can help class teachers to explore and develop oral language strategies in order to support teaching and learning for bilingual learners in a Primary 5 classroom in Scotland.