Skip navigation |

Teaching and Curriculum

Researching effective teaching and curriculum provision for bilingual leaners

In the UK EAL teaching and learning broadly takes place within the mainstream and within all subjects. It is primarily about teaching and learning language through the content of the whole curriculum. The current conceptualisation of EAL in England is as an 'aspect' of compulsory education and as a 'subject' (ESOL) in post compulsory provision.

As EAL does not currently have a separate syllabus it is more difficult to recognise as a distinct area of education. This had led to a shortage of large scale research that addresses pedagogic practices. The effectiveness of mainstream provision in meeting the needs of EAL and bilingual learners in UK schools is an area requiring further research.

In the past EAL has been regarded as a defined 'subject' in education in the UK, and it continues to be viewed in this way in many other English speaking countries. Most other English speaking countries have developed detailed language curricula for EAL pupils.

UK Research

Review of research in EAL (Andrews,R, Institute of Education, 2009)
The aim of this comprehensive study was to identify research that has been undertaken with regard to EAL provision and to identify gaps in research and provision. 54 studies were identified in the period from 2000 to 2008 that began to provide a research basis for future development. The review concluded that although there was plenty of policy analysis, there was little research that addresses pedagogic practices in EAL teaching. Most classroom-based research was small-scale, based on teacher perceptions or anecdotal. There was a distinct lack of larger-scale studies, longitudinal studies, studies with a balance of qualitative and quantitative data and comparative studies.

Ten case studies of EAL pupils (IoE, 2009)

10 case studies developed as part of the TDA funded 5 year strategy for EAL. The authors noted that it was striking that even in those schools which could be deemed as having ‘good’ EAL provision there was greater sensitivity to cultural diversity than to language diversity with little awareness of the language demands of the curriculum. Strategies were not considered or modified specifically to match with EAL pupil needs and there was a lack of understanding of the linguistic demands some activities entailed for some EAL pupils.

Raising the achievement of bilingual learners in primary schools: Evaluation of the pilot/programme (NFER, 2006)
The full research evaluation of the Primary National Strategy EAL programme by NFER highlighted a number of teaching approaches which seemed of particular benefit to pupils across contexts. These including: the use of curricular/layered targets to plan for language development and curriculum access; planned opportunities for speaking and listening using ‘talk partners’, talk frames and role play; prioritising of speaking and listening as a prelude to writing; and the use of first language by children to learn – rather than limiting use of first language by adults for explanations.

What strategies can be used by initial training providers, trainees and newly qualified teachers to raise the attainment of pupils from culturally diverse bakgrounds?(EPPI, 2004)
A systematic literature review of strategies that may be instrumental in raising attainment for ethnic minority students. Report identified only three EAL strategies: using first language and dual language texts in the Numeracy and Literacy Hours; providing opportunities for small group work in literacy; and involving bilingual classroom assistants

The achievement of ethnic minority pupils in Wales (EALAW, 2003)
EALAW ( English as an Additional Language Asssociation of Wales) research report funded by the Welsh Assembly Government

More advanced Learners of English as and Additional Language in Secondary schools and colleges (OFSTED, 2003)
OfSTED carried out an inspection in the Spring of 2002 to identify good practice in Key Stage 4 and post-16 provision which took account of the continuing need of many bilingual students for language support in their work. The report involved the inspection of support work in 11 secondary schools and four colleges and concluded that staff should: understand the need of many bilingual learners for continuing language support and their role in providing it and have access to appropriately qualified and skilled EAL/ESOL practitioners who can advise or work in partnership with them. It further recommended that the deployment of additional support was managed so that all staff develop the confidence to work in multilingual classrooms and that the provision of additional support is monitored to establish whether it is effective in raising attainment.

Online Readings

What does it take to acquire language? (Krashen, 2000)
Stephen Krashen paper on the role of comprehensible input in learning a new language

Academic achievement in a second language
A digest from the ERIC/CLL database giving an overview of the topic and full references to source more detailed information

ESL through content area instruction
A digest from the ERIC/CLL database giving an overview of the topic and full references to source more detailed information.

Contextual factors in second language acquisition
A digest from the ERIC/CLL database giving an overview of the topic and full references to source more detailed information.