Essay Example on The Department for Education DfE defines first Language

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Introduction An EAL student is characterised as a pupil whose first language is known or believed to be other than English The Department for Education DfE defines first language as the language to which a child was initially exposed during early development and continues to be exposed to this language in the home or in the community DfE 2013b p 7 There are now more than one million learners in UK schools who speak English as an additional language EAL This represents a considerable proportion of the overall school population well above 15 per cent British council In the 2013 school census the percentage of pupils in English primary and secondary schools aged 5 16 who are recorded as EAL has more than doubled from 7 6 in 1997 to 16 2 in 2013 Strand S 2015 With this changing demographic schools have to adapt their teaching to incorporate this change whether it be through differentiation EAL friendly teaching practice or employing specialist EAL coordinators to oversee the schools strategy This report highlights the various challenges facing teachers in regards to EAL students what policies they can adopt to support EAL students in their progress and what impact the changing demographic is having on schools and communities EAL students and the challenges facing teachers


The Government's policy for children learning English as an additional language is to promote rapid language acquisition and to include them within mainstream education as soon as possible and that class teachers have responsibility for ensuring that pupils can participate in lessons ibid p 1 The greatest obstacle facing teachers when teaching EAL students is the absence of appropriate and sufficient pupil achievement data at national regional and school level which can be used to measure the link between achievement and factors such as English proficiency length of stay in UK school national origin economic and social disadvantage and prior academic achievement educam Insufficient staff assessment and knowledge of their prior learning and attainment means students are not stretched in their ability or struggle to adapt With an absence of Department for Education leadership on EAL issues a number of headteachers feel they lack trustworthy guidance on the matter insights 2015 To counter this the government has introduced a detailed analysis of EAL students with schools now required to record the proficiency levels of each student using a new five point scale The information will be used to help the DfE better understand how children with for example English as an additional language perform in terms of broader learning gov co uk Supporting EAL students EAL teaching has its own distinctive pedagogy It aims to teach English using the mainstream curriculum as the context This involves developing specific resources which make the language of the curriculum accessible through for example increased use of visuals scaffolding and modelling while keeping the cognitive challenge and interest level high eal british council Some of the key features of EAL pedagogy to support students is Visuals the language of visuals is universal Visuals provide context and access for EAL learners who are required to make sense of new information and new language in order to learn


his enables the language demands of an activity to be reduced without reducing the cognitive demand Scaffolding this refers to a variety of techniques used by the teacher to guide students progressively towards stronger understanding and ultimately greater independence in their learning Scaffolding is important for EAL learners as it enables them to move from dependent to independent learning Collaborative group work Allowing EAL pupils to engage collaboratively in group work is a good way teachers can exhibit inclusive practice This empowers each pupil to develop his or her language thinking self concept and relationships as well as allowing them to gain insights into one another that help to dispel stereotypes Gardner 2001 69 The changing demographic and its impact on schools and communities With the expansion of the European Union over the years combined with an increase in migration and immigration into the UK the demographic within schools has changed vastly Such a drastic change has led to concerns that white British children are now lagging behind their classmates According to Dr Timo Hannay those schools that have large numbers of non British white pupils tend to do better than schools that have a smaller number of them TES

The question would then have to be asked why would schools with large numbers of EAL students many of whom learned other languages before learning English do better academically than similar schools catering mainly for native British pupils Well Dr Hannay attributes this to immigrant families value education more than some British native families Similarly when lessons are successfully adapted for them EAL learners achieve well academically even outperforming their English mother tongue peers in most boroughs of London British council However research carried out by professor Steve Strand found achievement of native English speakers does not suffer if they attend schools with a high proportion of pupils who speak a different first language Strand S Despite the large increase of EAL students into schools over the past decade there was no evidence to suggest this was a negatively impacting on native English speakers Conclusion Inclusiveness should be at the heart of a teacher's practice and the norm within the classroom generally Teachers largely use a variety of resources differentiated appropriately to maintain the cognitive challenge and keep student interest high however they hold greater significance for bilingual multilingual learners with English as an Additional Language Therefore a systematic and holistic approach to school provision of support for EAL pupils needs to be taken as well as more comprehensive and practical training for teachers should be encouraged


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