Schools Reopening: Preparing EAL Pupils

Whether they’ve been learning remotely or in school during lockdown, pupils with EAL could find the full reopening challenging.

Education in the past year has been all about adjustments. Remote learning has been hard for all, but without targeted provisions and resources, it may have been even harder for EAL learners. Now, as schools set to fully reopen on 8th March, we’re asking our pupils to make that adjustment once more – whether it’s going from remote to classroom learning or adjusting to full classrooms again. For EAL learners, these patterns of adjustment could be similar to reverse culture shock; symptoms include feeling like you don’t fit in, being extra critical, exhaustion, and self-doubt.

The mainstream classroom, especially for new arrivals, can be an overwhelming place where they are bombarded with unfamiliar language. Incorporating social and emotional support – such as practising positivity, getting used to routines again (telling the time, reading timetables, reviewing key school vocabulary), and acknowledging experiences during lockdown – will be really important in the initial ‘back to school’ phase. Creating a space for pupils to share the positives e.g., learning a new skill will also help to recognise their personal strengths, abilities, and enable to exercise a growth mindset.

For learners who have remained in school during lockdown, the sudden shock of a full classroom may be distressing. Reduced classroom sizes will have been a great opportunity for learners who usually hesitate to contribute in lessons. However, the return to full classrooms does not mean these learners should separate from their peers, as collaboration and inclusivity is crucial for EAL development.

To promote collaboration, and to help align with the DfE’s guidance on curriculum delivery (identifying gaps in learning and developing knowledge/vocabulary), we should ensure strategies such as sentence/conversation prompts are on show. Whether this is a wall display or stuck on the back of an exercise book, it will help children to ask questions and develop both their classroom and social engagement. FlashAcademy’s Active Learning poster is the perfect resource for this strategy. It offers different sentence structures for seven different types of talk including giving opinions, describing, and predicting, giving that confidence boost for learners who may find themselves back in the silent phase.

The Active Learning poster is a complimentary resource exclusive to NAHT members who book a demo and free trial of FlashAcademy. The poster is also packaged with our best primary worksheets including storytelling and vocabulary games. FlashAcademy provides targeted digital English language learning from 45 home languages, helping to ensure no pupil is left behind.