English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Help and resources for students who have English as an Additional Language (EAL).

English as an Additional Language (EAL) is not a subject specialism in the realm of teaching. However, it is more than likely teachers will come across EAL pupils and will face the issue first-hand. The Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service (EMTAS) provide guidance that helps you to understand the distinctiveness of EAL learners and key considerations in EAL support.

How the EMTAS team support schools

The EMTAS team offers EAL support and advice to schools through:

  • EAL network meetings, where participants can share and discuss EAL-related issues.
  • One-to-one initial consultations for EAL Leads new to their role.
  • Reviews of EAL provision in schools.
  • Review and help with drafting statutory documents for example action plans and policies.
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions.
  • EAL assessments.
  • The role of the EAL coordinator is varied and may involve a range of responsibilities that fall into five main categories:

    Data, assessment and progress

    • Maintaining EAL register.
    • Target setting.
    • Monitoring impact of provision.

    Teaching and learning

    • Coordinating the use of peers as buddies.
    • Leading EAL interventions.
    • Pupil’s voice.

    Parental and community engagement

    • Sending strong messages in terms of valuing first language.
    • Liaising with families.
    • Gathering background information.

    Pedagogy and practice

    • Supporting colleagues with lesson planning.
    • Learning Walks.
    • Offering CPD.

    Leadership and management

    • Writing an EAL action plan.
    • Maintaining EAL budget.
    • Feeding back to Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and governors.

General tips

  • Gather relevant information concerning the pupil.
  • Use the Welcome Profiles on the Meeting the Needs of New Arrivals page to find information.
  • For other Welcome Profiles in other languages – contact your local EMA Advisory Teacher.
  • Share information about the pupil with relevant staff.
  • Allocate pupils in appropriate sets for their academic potential.
  • Use a buddy system to support.
  • Maintain good relationships with families.
  • Differentiate curriculum and present it in an EAL-friendly format- see suggested teaching strategies from The Bell Foundation and NALDIC.
  • Monitor progress in developing proficiency in English using a suitable framework- see The Bell Foundation, NASSEA or Department of Education (DfE) descriptors. Our guide on how to use an EAL framework effectively is available to download from this page.
  • Value first language and heritage- see Bell Foundation advice regarding Translanguaging and Speaking in your Home Language.
  • Encourage engagement in wider school community.
  • Liaise with EMTAS Advisory Teachers for further support.

Good practice

Activate prior knowledge

It is important to incorporate this aspect in teaching practice as it will allow a pupil to see the wider context. The pupil may then be able to link prior knowledge to the curriculum being discussed. Apart from providing clear contextual background, the teacher may use this strategy to gain information regarding the knowledge that already exists. As a result, the teacher can make an informed decision whether to revisit curriculum or to move on to next stages.

Use visual support

Apart from providing support in terms of building context for the learner, visual support plays a major role in learning new content. Visual organisers, fact files, charts, posters, videos or mind maps can all substantially support conceptual and language knowledge.

Encourage active production of English

It is crucial that learners of English are actively encouraged to produce language from the very onset. Teachers need to create opportunities for learners to produce English in a variety of contexts and forms. Consequently, using strategies such as collaborative learning, role-play, discussions or project work are vital to ensure that spoken and written English production takes place on a regular basis.

Promote independence

As the objective is to provide the learner with tools to become an independent and proficient user of English, it is beneficial to promote independent work. It is worth encouraging self-organisation, planning and an ability to cooperate with others to find, process, discuss and reflect on the information within the curriculum.

EMTAS training taster

A short session introducing EMTAS training.

This covers core basics in welcoming and supporting students who are new to English, giving an overview of language development and some effective strategies for classroom and whole-school use.

24 mins

Full EMTAS training

The full EMTAS training expands on the training taster above.

West Sussex schools can book the full training online (select ‘EMTAS’ in the Provider filter) or via your EMA Advisory Teacher, who will be happy to discuss our service and full training offer in more detail.

Other resources

Schools Library Service book list

The West Sussex Schools Library Service has a collection of themed book lists. Compiled in collaboration with EMTAS, there are currently two Diversity and Inclusion lists available on the fiction page for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 respectively. There is a third list on their non-fiction page, for Key Stages 1 and 2 combined.

These are a great way to get some inspiration and think about how you can represent a wide range of children in your libraries and book corners!

Talking through books (EAL project) sources

Our Talking Through Books projects are aimed at primary aged pupils who are at the “Developing Competence” stage of proficiency in English.

Flotsam by David Wiesner

Flotsam is a wonderful wordless picture book. It tells the story of a science-minded boy who, whilst visiting the beach with his parents, discovers a barnacle-encrusted box brownie camera. The photographs that he develops from the film in the camera are nothing short of astonishing. The surreal underwater world of robotic fish, aliens and giant starfish is both marvellous and puzzling. The photographs of other children who have found the camera in the past are equally fascinating as they take the reader on a journey through continents and time.

The engaging activities in this ‘Talking through books’ project include:

  • finding flotsam in sand
  • exploring the mechanics of a real box camera
  • creating an underwater picture
  • timeline and tracing the camera’s journey.

The project takes place over 6 weeks and is aimed at pupils learning through EAL in Years 2 and 3, although can be easily adapted to suit older ages.

The Tunnel by Anthony Browne

The Tunnel is an exciting story of a brother who seeks adventure and a sister who follows. The reader travels through the tunnel with the boy and his reluctant sister into a fantasy world where the siblings face surprising challenges and where they gradually discover how important they are to each other. It is a moving story with beautiful illustrations that encompass striking and intriguing details.

This ‘Talking through books’ project incorporates activities such as:

  • Gallery Walk
  • Role on the wall
  • What’s inside the tunnel
  • Decision Alley
  • ‘What do I know?’ board game based on the text.

Skies Above My Eyes by Charlotte Guillain

Skies Above My Eyes is a non-fiction text which begins at ground level in a busy city. Looking up, street signs, high rise buildings and window cleaners on a cradle can be seen. The reader is then taken on a journey up into the air, through the atmosphere, and out into space, before heading back down to Earth again. Each page is packed with beautifully detailed illustrations that engage and inform. The book has an unusual concertina layout, extending to 2.5m.

The exciting ‘Talking Through Books’ project based on this text includes:

  • drama activities
  • a science experiment exploring craters
  • creating poetry
  • stories and mnemonics
  • finding out what it is like to live on the International Space Station.


Herons Dale Social Story

This resource was created by Herons Dale school in Shoreham-by-Sea in 2020.

It was specifically created for children with SEND. EMTAS also feel that the visual nature of this document makes it an excellent resource for EAL children.

We thank Herons Dale for allowing us to share this more widely:

“At Herons Dale we strive to promote equality and celebrate diversity in all its forms. Herons Dale stands in opposition to all forms of racism, prejudice, discrimination and inequality. Our school values were written to ensure that we promote the equality and value of every individual in our school community. It is our aim to support our pupils in understanding racism and to support you in being able to talk about racism with your children.

When reading this Social Story, remember it’s intended audience. Our pupils learn best when provided with clarity and to talk about race effectively and to present the issue of racism, demands that we talk specifically about skin colour and tone in a clear and direct way.”

Autism and Bilingualism

Recent years have seen a rise in the number of bilingual children on the autism spectrum. Department for Education figures show there are now over 20,000 children in England with autism who have a first language other than English, a rise has also been seen in West Sussex.

The West Sussex Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service (EMTAS) and the Autism and Social Communication Team (ASCT) in collaboration with the University of Chichester have developed An Evidence-Based Guide to Autism and Bilingualism.

Dr Seach, from the University of Chichester commented: “We have co-produced this guide to highlight the intersection between autism and bilingualism and provide teachers and clinicians with strategies which recognise the ways in which the languages spoken at home and at school are fundamental to a child’s learning and social development.”