Helping your EAL/D Child Learn English

Having English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) can sometimes be daunting for children when they are faced with the demands of the school curriculum. When acquiring a second language, children will develop their social playground language first, with the more formal academic language developing second. Sometimes, this can take up to seven years to be at a near-native level. So, what can you do to assist? Fortunately, there are many simple ways for you to help your child to not only improve their English language ability, but to be better prepared to tackle their academic work.

These include:

Maintaining their first language

This allows your child to develop age-appropriate knowledge and vocabulary without having to wait until they have learnt enough English to engage with such topics. Also, the knowledge and skills learnt in their first language can transfer readily when learning English. Reading, writing and storytelling in the first language models and strengthens the literacy processes in English.

Maintaining your child’s first language is particularly important for your child’s development of a positive self-concept and cultural identity. It makes them well-prepared to participate in our global society. When their first language is valued, children can see English as an addition to their first language, rather than as a substitution for it.

Read Read Read!

Reading in the second language is not only entertaining but provides exposure to different genre structures and endless vocabulary. It also assists with writing and overall language competence.

Providing a fun, language-rich environment

Providing opportunities for your child to use English, or be exposed to English, will help their acquisition—that’s where games, songs and stories come in. This can be as simple as watching a TV program or having a play-date with an English-speaking friend or something more structured like a grammar game on the iPad.

The suggestions above are just the tip of the iceberg in how you can help your child increase their English language proficiency. For further information and fun activities, please refer to the resources below.

Lisa Chadwick – EAL/D Curriculum Leader Assistant

  1. British Council - Learning English for Kids
  2. British Council BBC (children up to 12 years old)
  3. Cambridge English
  4. Gogo Lessons
  5. Songs
  6. Dream English Kids