English as an Additional Language (EAL) refers to pupils who speak another language at home and that this other language is their most prominent language, in other words their mother tongue is not English. Children with EAL should not be confused with children who are bi-lingual or children who grew up or spent time in another country but still had English as a first language. The educational system in the United Kingdom has always had to cope with the difficulties and challenges that arise in the teaching of children to whom English is not their first language. I will be attempting to analyse the methods that are used in schools to ensure that children who speak another language at home are given every opportunity to fully engage with the curriculum and acquire a well rounded and successful education. Never has the UK been more multi-cultural than it is at the present time, while I believe that this should be celebrated it does provide tests for teachers who may have children in the class who speak little or no English, and at the same time have to ensure that all the pupils in the class are being stretched. The ‘Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Standards website (Raising Achievement) has some facts and figures in relation to children with EAL which I found interesting. The article points out the following: ‘In England, 856,670 pupils are recorded as having a mother tongue other than English. This represents a total of 492,390 pupils or 15.2% at primary school nationally and 364,280 pupils or 11.1% at secondary school (Statistical First Release August 2009). Whilst in Inner London around 54.1% of pupils are recorded as learning English as an additional language.’
I think that the above quote highlights how important addressing the issue of children with EAL in schools is in this country. The figures which show that there is a higher percentage of children with EAL in primary school than in secondary education would indicate that the percentage will be increasing further in the future. Being based in the London area and having School Experience placements in areas of great diversity has given me an excellent insight into the challenges faced by pupils, parents, teachers and schools and I hope to use this knowledge to identify the methods which will best encourage inclusion of all children within the classroom. Inclusion
Inclusion in schools is something which has really come to the fore in recent years and as a concept it aims to ensure that all learners are catered for and that they are all challenged appropriately and encouraged to progress as effectively as possible. The Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA) describe their goal in light of inclusion by stating that ‘effective, inclusive teaching addresses the needs of all learners’. The National Curriculum points out the diverse needs that teachers need to consider: ‘When planning, teachers should set high expectations and provide opportunities for all pupils to achieve, including boys and girls, pupils with special educational needs, pupils from all social and cultural backgrounds, pupils from different ethnic groups including travellers, refugees and asylum seekers, and those from diverse linguistic backgrounds. Teachers need to be aware that pupils bring to school different experiences, interests and strengths which will influence the way in which they learn.’
The National Curriculum here highlights a selection of the large number of different groups of children that can benefit from teaching in an inclusive manner. The National Curriculum also points out a number of things that teachers can do to implement this style of teaching in the classroom including ‘creating effective learning environments’, ‘providing equality of opportunity through teaching approaches’, and ‘using appropriate assessment approaches’ and ‘setting targets for learning’.
What is important to recognise is that the whole idea of ‘Inclusion’ is much...
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