Eligible working families whose children will be aged between 9 and 23 months old on 31 August can now apply to receive 15 hours childcare starting from September 2024.

Find out more information on the Childcare Choices website

Early Years

Supporting Children with English as an additional Language

Supporting Children with English as an additional Language

Children learn English when:

  • They hear the language that goes with what they are doing or looking at, so do plenty of parallel and self-talk (commenting on what you or they are doing) rather than asking questions, e.g. “You’re jumping up the steps, you’re jumping up the steps.”.
  • They see visual prompts (pictures, props or gestures) that match what they are hearing, so maximise your visual clues and resources: e.g. “Go and put your coats on” (the adult adds the gesture of putting on a coat when s/he gives this instruction)

You can really help the language development of children if you seize on opportunities to do the following:

  • When you are playing alongside a child, describe what they are doing rather than asking lots of questions e.g. “You’ve chosen the purple pencil” rather than asking “What colour pencil have you chosen?”
  • Children learn English when they hear the language that goes with what they are doing or looking at, so do plenty of parallel and self-talk (commenting on what you or they are doing) rather than asking questions. Describe fully what you are doing – for example, when setting the table in the role play area say “I’m putting the spoon next to the plate. I’m putting the cup in the middle of the table…”
  • Do not try to make a child speak. Listen, wait and watch! Play silently alongside the child for a while if you think that is what is needed.   When you do speak and make comments on what you or the child is doing, don’t be disheartened if the child does not say anything. The language will still be ‘going in’ and being absorbed.
  • Focus on just a few new words in any activity, rather than children being bombarded with a ‘sea of words’, e.g. before starting a new story, introduce three of the keywords with pictures, pre-reading with key words.
  • Have paper and felt tip pens to hand so that you can draw something that the child hears others talking about but does not know what it is, e.g. a spider.Read more

Celebrating and supporting children who have English as an Additional Language (EAL):

  • All children are entitled to equal access to the whole curriculum.
  • Learning and using more than one language is an asset and is a learning opportunity for both children and adults in the setting.
  • An atmosphere where being able to speak other languages should be truly valued as a positive skill.
  • Parents are key in developing communication with children.

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