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Language and Literacy

All student teachers, irrespective of their subject and phase specialisms, are expected to pay attention to the language needs of bilingual pupils, and to promote English as an additional language development through their teaching. It is sometimes believed that the development of reading and writing in EAL will emerge from the exposure to and the use of spoken English. Alternatively, it is sometimes suggested that the teaching of the more ‘technical’ aspects of English language such as rules and conventions of pronunciation and grammar will lead to wider EAL development, including reading and writing in EAL for learning purposes. However, from professional experience and research, we know that the development of reading and writing do not always automatically follow speaking and listening; and this is true whether we are talking about first or additional language. We also know that the development of EAL in a curriculum context involves a much wider process than the learning of the formal aspects of English.

Learning an additional language is not just a simple process of acquisition of new linguistic knowledge and skills; it also has an affective and cultural dimension. Ideally, teachers would like to see bilingual pupils develop a sense of affiliation to English, in addition to their home and/or community language(s). This means helping pupils to feel comfortable with the English language in school and its many specific ways of use in the curriculum context.
Helping bilingual children to learn to speak, read and write in English in school is part of a general and long-term experiential process involving at least the following:

  • learning to use English for communication in both the spoken and written forms within the wider context of learning the curriculum content
  • learning about the English language (e.g. rules of grammar and social conventions of use).

Teachers need to understand the nature of the challenges inherent in learning to speak, read and write in an additional language, and the ways in which they can support bilingual pupils in facing these challenges.

Section Editor and Author

Carrie Cable

On this page you will find web pages from the archived ITTSEAL site for teacher educators new to initial teacher training. Much of this material is being substantially rewritten and incorporated into our new site but we have maintained this archive to support referencing and site users.

The PDF pages are arranged in the same structure as on the original site. Please note that embedded hyperlinks in the documents will not work and external weblinks are no longer necessarily live. If you are searching for a particular resource which you cannot find, please contact us and we will try to help

Language and Literacy

Language Demands
Spoken language
Developing reading in EAL
Developing writing skills in EAL