Helping an EAL child access the curriculum can be challenging, but using the right type of technology can make this a lot easier. Some children can not speak a word of English whereas other EAL children only really require work on their sentence structure and basic grammar.
Whatever it is your child needs assistance with, you’re bound to find an idea on this page to help them engage with school and settle into the class.
1. Google Translate
A lot of teachers don’t make enough use of Google Translate when trying to communicate with EAL, but it’s actually a very powerful tool to use. All you do is type in a word or phrase and the Translate tool will translate it into a language of your choice – leading it some insightful conversations.
2. Recording Audio
You can record different phrases and sentences using an iPad or EasiSpeak and download the mp3 file onto an mp3 player. Give this to the EAL child and they can listen to their free English lesson whenever they life.
3. Phonics Play
Phonics Play is a fantastic website which will give you access to a lot of phonics resources. Although there is a paid subscription service, you can play a lot of the games for free (they’re ideal for people who really struggle with English).
4. Change Language
A lot of different apps and websites have an option that allow you to change the language. This will allow the EAL child to access the learning when using this technology, even if they have no knowledge of the English language, because you can set it to display their language.
5. Visual Clues
A lot of phonics apps have a picture alongside the word, this will give the children a visual to associate with each word. You can also achieve this by using Google.com to find an image to match the words they’re learning – giving the EAL child context.
6. Use a Scheduler
Whenever I’ve worked with EAL children who are new to the country, it can be a bit overwhelming for them to follow a brand new daily routine. You can easily download a scheduling app onto an iPad which will beep whenever they need to be somewhere – you could even add a picture so they know where to go.
7. Free Book Apps
There are tons of apps which are entirely free and house a huge collection of books. You can give EAL children access to these books to help them develop their reading.
This may seem like a pretty obvious piece of advice but not everybody I know thinks to do this. Most EAL-based apps use sound to teach English, which can be disruptive to other students in a lesson, but using headphones will allow the learner to continue using the app throughout the entire lesson.
9. Maths Apps
Numbers are universal, but we pronounce and write them in different ways. However, you can give the EAL children an app (of which there are many) which represents the numbers as images – giving them an opportunity to take part in a maths lesson without the language barrier being a problem.
10. Adapting to the UK
If you type British Values into the app store search bar, you can find apps which are designed to help educate people about the UK and give advice on living here.
11. Check Spelling
Many EAL children who speak very good English still struggle with spelling, using the spell checker on a computer can help them to improve their spelling as they’ll be able to correct their errors.
I’ll be honest and admit that my own grammar level has greatly improve since installing Grammarly. It’s a plug-in which points out spelling and grammar mistakes when you’re writing an e-mail, a Tweet or a blog entry (basically any time you type on the internet). It also gives possible solutions and an explanation, its a great way to help an EAL child spot errors in their work.
13. Learn a Language Apps
There are literally dozens of apps which help people to learn a new language (my favourite app is Duolingo). These apps teach a language in simple steps and also give you a mark of progress. You could use them to teach an EAL child how to read, write and speak English.
As with numbers, time is a universal topic and there are several time-related apps which you can use to help EAL children learn to tell the time regardless of their language.
15. Capture Evidence
A lot of time it can be difficult to gather evidence of an EAL child making progress because – depending on their understanding of English – they can sometimes be learning an entirely different curriculum. However, you can use different apps (duolingo) or software (Nessy) to show evidence as they come with tests they can use complete at the start and end of a topic.
As I’ve indicated above, Nessy is a great phonics programme which the children can use to develop their phonics skills. There are different activities and tests which you can use to teach and show progress. EAL children at my school enjoy using Nessy and I’ve seen great progress since they’ve been completing the activities and tasks.
17. Type Talk
Using different software such as Read Speaker, children can listen to the words that they type being read out. This can help an EAL child to develop their sentence structure because they can type a sentence and listen to it being read back to them.
18. Videos #1
Popular sites such as YouTube are full of videos of people who teach English or can help translate. You can give children access to these videos by simply giving them an iPad or a laptop.
19. Videos #2
Just like giving children access to images, you can use the internet to show children a video of almost anything. Whilst an EAL child might not be able to read a recount of a Roman solider at a fort (for example) – they can experience it through video.
Using Skype, children can be given access to a long-distance tutor who specialises in teaching English. This is a great way to meet the needs of an EAL child without them leaving the classroom.
Similarly, giving EAL children access to e-mail can help them to develop their English skills. Allow them to become a “pen pal” with another student and their interaction will help encourage the EAL child to develop their language skills so they can communicate with their new friend quickly.
Earlier I indicated that you could record your own audio for a child to listen to, which is a great way to help them learn certain key words. But you could also download a podcast designed to help children learn English and allow your EAL child to listen to the series.
23. The ESL Cafe
The ESL Cafe great website for helping an EAL learner develop their phonics and English skills. It’s full of top resources that you can use in your classroom instantly.
24. Social Media
Depending on the age of the child, you can help them to set up a Facebook account (not applicable to Primary and some Secondary). This would not only help them to make friends but would also give them access to different groups and pages designed to help EAL learners.
25. Access to Current Events
Helping an EAL child, especially if they’re new to the country, keep up-to-date with current events can be a great way to help them settle in. The internet is full of different news-related websites (sport, celebrities, music etc) which can help them find something to discuss with their peers.
A great way to learn any subject is to introduce music, and there are songs all over the internet (just type learn English songs into YouTube) that the children can be given instant access to whenever you like.
27. Bilingual Stories
Using different apps, or a quick Google search, you can find a load of bilingual stories. This can be used to help the EAL learner feel more comfortable getting to know their peers as they can read the stories together.
28. Record Them
You can use a camera on an iPad to record an EAL learner reading out their work. They can then watch this back and work with you to identify any grammatical or pronunciation errors.
29. Translating Devices
You can buy Pocket Translators for a small fee using Amazon which can be really used in the classroom to help an EAL child access the work. As you talk, these translators will take your words and translate them into the language that the EAL child understands (just make sure their language is an option before you buy).
30. Keyboard Overlay
You can also buy keyboard overlays which can be placed over the keyboard so that each letter is shown in their language, this can be a useful way of helping them to learn the alphabet as they’ll be able to recognise which letter (on-screen) matches the letter they type.
31. Bug Club
Bug Club is a great resource for EAL children because they are given access to tons of books (which you can allocate if you want). The books vary in difficult and some will have very few words whereas others will be complete novels. They also contain comprehension questions for the children to answer, but they’re presented in a fun way and children receive rewards for making progress.
32. Oxford Picture Dictionary App
Downloading this app onto an iPad and giving it to an EAL child is a great way for them to associate an image with everything you’re talking about.
33. Twinkl Phonics
The Twinkl app is a great app for teaching children phonics and letter formation. There are different activities which involve dragging and dropping words into the correct place and also different activities where children have to draw a letter using their finger (which I think is more important initially than using a pen).
34. Record an Instructional Video
The best way to help a child remember something is to have them teach somebody else it. Help the EAL children to create an instructional video, this will help them to develop their language skills and you could also make an alternative version in their own language so they could show their parents.
35. QR Codes
If an EAL child is working on a particular website (such as Phonics Play) then it’s unlikely they’re going to take the time to type it into the computer when they’re at home. Why not use this website to turn the URL into a QR Code that they can scan at home, giving them quick and easy access to the website you want them to use.
Hopefully you’ve found an idea, or several ideas, that you’d like to use with the EAL children in your class. I devised this post as a way of helping EAL children to integrate into school because I think that’s arguably the most important way of making them feel welcome, which in-turn will encourage them to make more progress with their language skills.