EAL Learners Need Targeted Literacy Support Immediately

a student in a hijab writing at a desk

Joining a new school is a daunting prospect for all students, however, when you’re entering a school community and you can’t communicate in their language, the prospect must be terrifying. We know that individual needs a wholistic approach to their transition, but one key area needs real strategic attention: teaching them to speak, read and communicate in English.

For new EAL students, schools need to act fast and put support programmes in place immediately because the curriculum doesn’t wait.

For the majority of EAL students the only thing that is holding them back is their level of language acquisition, not their capability. We need to target this area of need quickly and effectively, particularly for the older student because time is running out for them. It is never too late to provide learners with strategies that can have a dramatic impact on confidence and understanding. In a previous blog ‘How can we best support our EAL learners?’ I wrote about five essential areas we need to focus on. The teaching of reading and language development through Latin and etymology are two of these key areas.

Conversational language is important and much of this, not all, can be learned by simply immersing them in spoken language; yet all too often the EAL student is placed in a lower band or set where they have limited access to the higher order vocabulary needed to immerse themselves in the academics of school. Also, that academic language needs to be explicitly taught. Learning the subject specific language simply by exposure will take too long. Short bursts of effective interventions delivered in small groups and not in mainstream classrooms gets better results in a shorter period. Which is exactly the purpose of Lexonik Leap

If an intervention is to be effective, a simple and easy to use diagnostic assessment is essential. The diagnostic assessment is a key too used to highlight gaps in students’ language acquisition, but is useless without an appropriate, strategic and personalised intervention post assessment.

I have seen some very detailed assessments that appear to test everything; so much so, it almost becomes too comprehensive and so the task of addressing the issues seems insurmountable. An effective assessment therefore needs to be quick to diagnose and treat the main barrier to progress.

Lexonik Leap’s diagnostic assessment quickly assesses any gaps in basic literacy skills. This allows teachers to plan sessions, which are tailored to the student’s needs. There is no need to spend valuable time teaching something the student already knows. Teaching needs to focus only on gaps in knowledge, making sure learners quickly become skilled and fluent in basic literacy skills. This way they can see instant progress; there is nothing more powerful or motivating than when they see for themselves the progress they are making. It fuels their desire to learn even more. The teaching activities are fast, fun and very focused. And need to be!

If the basics are in place, they can then begin to develop reading ability and with that begin to work more independently and ultimately, more successfully.

A quote from Brynmawr School, Wales, who uses Lexonik Leap:

“We have recently taught 3 asylum seekers from Afghanistan who are new to English, the resources themselves have proved invaluable. I particularly like the fact that they do not have to be used in any order; you can dip in and out as required by the individual. The fact that you can spend 5 mins or 30 mins is brilliant.”

If you feel like you want to learn more about our intervention programmes check them out here or if you’re looking for advice, get in touch.

Katy Parkinson

Founder Director