Practical guidance, processes and adaptable resources to develop a whole school framework for supporting EAL learners in Post-Primary
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Make every effort to ensure the EAL learner's first week is a success.
To help remove or reduce any anxiety and fear he/she may have, plan activities that will actively welcome, include and allow a new student experience success especially in the initial week or two.
Find out who each EAL learner is, where they come from, which languages they speak and to whom.
Seek opportunities to incorporate their language, country, and culture into subject lessons and projects.
Small but significant measures can make a huge difference to EAL learners and go a long way to ensuring a new EAL Learner feels safe, secure and included from day one.
Greet the EAL learner in their home language on arrival
If possible arrange for a ‘home language buddy’ to be involved in the welcome process.
Use welcoming body language, as many gestures and key visuals as possible.
An EAL learner will depend more than usual on reading your expression.
Introduce him/her to key members of staff
Introduce the EAL Learner to their buddies.
Introduce him/her to their class tutor, year-head, someone to go to if they have a problem.
Show the EAL learner a ‘safe space’ where (s)he can have some ‘quiet’ time, (e.g. library, EAL room) at lunchtime, before or after school etc.. if needed.
Explain their daily schedule
Take it day by day for the first week, weekly schedule might be too much.
Provide the EAL learner with a pre prepared visual timetable.
Check they are organised for food, drink.
Make sure the EAL learner understands any changes in school routines (e.g. non-uniform day, trips, fire drill, school closures etc..).
Accompany the EAL learner to their first class
Accompany the EAL learner to as many classes in the first few days, make positive references to their bilingualism in your introduction.
Have class and teacher welcome him/her in their home language.
Invite students to give the word for each subject in their home language and display them.
Encourage all students to answer roll call in the the new EAL learner's home language.
(Vary the language of greeting and roll call weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.)
Try saying goodbye and thank you to student in their home language.
Sit the EAL learner near the front
Have each teacher sit the EAL learner near the front, where he/she can see the teacher’s face straight on.
This will ensure the learner can hear properly and pick up visual clues from facial expression.
Sit the learner next to supportive peers who have been briefed to include and support them and allow them to work together at certain points in the lesson.
Make room for EAL learner's home language
Let EAL learners make good use of their home language whenever possible.
If there are students in the class who speak the same home language, create opportunities to allow them to draw on their home language to successfully collaborate.
Remove the pressure to speak for some time
Passive language skills develop before active skills.
Allow EAL learners to observe at first, accept nods, gestures, pointing and facial expressions.
Provide ‘switch off time’
Don’t forget a new school can be draining and exhausting.
Reading or listening to stories in the home language can be comforting and relaxing.
Nice idea to allow group of EAL learners to read the same story in their home language, you can follow the English version.
If students are confident readers, invite them to read a page in their home language.
Hopefully you will have purchased books through the PPLI Home Library fund!!
Global story books
provide stories in many languages.
The JCSP Library Project Digital library (SORA) is free to DEIS schools, home language texts available.
Here we see EAL learners compare Pashto and Arabic books from home language library.