Each year, more and more children start early years settings with English as an Additional Language (EAL). So how can you ensure that the Railway Children is the right place with the right support for your child?
First and foremost, teaching good listening and speaking skills is key for all of our children – we focus on these areas and positively encourage all attempts of speech.
We positively encourage home language.
It is important to remember that a child’s home language is integral to a child’s cultural and individual identity, and should be encouraged to be used and developed at home. According to research from the Department for Education, home language skills can easily be transferred to new languages and therefore will help to support a child’s understanding of language. We work closely with the child’s parents/carers to ensure that the home language is not discarded at home.
It might be that some parents feel very strongly about whether English is also used at home or not, and it will depend on individual circumstances, working with our parents as partners ensure a positive plan of action.
In addition, this gives us the opportunity to find out as much as possible about the child’s background (as there may be extra considerations to take into account) as well as information about their speech and language development at home.
Silence is okay
When a child is starting to learn English, it is very normal for them to go through a silent phase – and this can last up to 6 months. During this time, the child is absorbing what they are learning and building on their understanding, all in preparation for when they feel ready to move to the next stage of speaking.
A child might not be ready to start speaking, but we will still encourage and talk to the child as if we expect the child to respond. Language experts stress that it is important to remember, as with all languages, that understanding comes first, and when a child feels they are ready, they will speak.
In their own time
In two to three years it can be possible for a child to seem 'conversationally able' in a new language.