Support for families for whom English is an additional language (EAL)

Grown up and 2 boys play with ballThe definition of an EAL learner is someone whose first language is not English. The learner may already be fluent in several other languages or dialects.

The information below is intended to provide guidance and support to parents and families regarding their child’s / children’s education while learning at home during COVID-19. It also signposts to other information which may be of interest to parents and families.

You can support your children by encouraging them to continue improving their English, despite not being in a classroom. It is important, however, that EAL learners also continue to develop skills in their first language(s), as well as continuing to celebrate their own culture.

Building knowledge about the ways in which people of different cultures interact is key to developing a successful multicultural society.

It is important for families, learners and teachers to bear in mind that:

  • more than half the population of the world is bilingual or plurilingual;
  • there is strong research evidence of the cognitive benefits in being plurilingual;
  • acknowledging and valuing the home languages and cultures helps with integration into schools and society;
  • having bilingual and plurilingual competences empowers learners for employment, for further study, for effective additional language learning and for citizenship.

The following links are examples of websites containing free educational resources for children and young people who are learning English as an additional language:

  • The Education Scotland English and literacy wakelet contains a number of EAL-specific resources for children and young people to access, allowing them to continue to learn at home.
  • Bilingualism Matters, a research and information centre based at the University of Edinburgh, provides information and guidance for families for whom English is an additional language and contains advice on how parents can ensure that home language(s) are maintained.
  • The University of Edinburgh (School of Education) has recorded a helpful webinar session specifically for teachers and parents of EAL learners.
  • BBC Learning English – various levels, stories, grammar, pronunciation.
  • Duolingo – various levels, self-access, mobile-phone friendly.
  • NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) – various levels, home learning project packs, celebrating multilingualism.