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Teachers concerned EAL pupils have lost confidence in social language skills due to school closures

School and college closures have created an education divide for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. Educators within the EAL (English as an Additional Language) community were left deeply concerned after the DfE’s home learning resources list specified no materials for EAL learners during lockdown.

Given this lack of guidance, ASCL’s recommended EAL provider, FlashAcademy®, surveyed EAL teachers and teaching assistants to better understand their concerns ahead of September. Survey respondents who were using the FlashAcademy® platform were pleased to see their pupils continue English language acquisition at home via curriculum content, phonics lessons, games, and much more.

However, around 90% of teachers are worried that their pupils have been left behind on their social English language skills, as school closures were reducing opportunities for pupils to practise English in a more sociable environment.

For most EAL learners, there isn’t as much need to speak English at home, so the school environment offers the exposure they need to fully explore their new language. However, months of home learning means these pupils may have lost the confidence to communicate in English when they return in September.

One teacher said, “School is a safe place for them where they have their trusted teachers and friends. Without this, it could be difficult to build their confidence and skills back upon their return.”

Teachers also reported that the loss of targeted one-to-one support and contact time may have hindered progression, as pupils with EAL often rely on face-to-face support to fully understand the language demands of lesson activities.

Survey participants also expressed concern over how EAL pupils will be able to readapt to the classroom environment, reigniting a ‘culture shock’ to school routines that they may experience upon their arrival to school.

Another teacher said, “Many of them will find it very difficult to concentrate for so many hours. The new measures and the new organisation will make things even more stressful, without forgetting the volume of work that they will have to take on.”

Teachers also considered the impact on their EAL pupils’ wellbeing. The survey suggests that EAL pupils were more likely to have experienced isolation and loneliness during lockdown.

One respondent said, “I’m worried that there has been a lack of a feeling of connection with other pupils during lockdown due to language barriers.”

For education to return to a ‘normal’ state in September, gaps in both education and socialisation will need to be addressed. Teachers, teaching assistants and other support staff will have the added pressure of providing focused support not just for their EAL pupils’ lost learning, but lost sociability as well. This is one of the main reasons why the FlashAcademy® platform is introducing Fluency Boost and Wow Words lessons to help EAL learners catch-up with their lost learning more quickly.

FlashAcademy® is offering free trials to help schools to explore how the platform can support them to deliver a targeted ‘catch-up’ intervention much needed for pupils with EAL at this time. Visit the FlashAcademy® website for more details.
Posted: 28/07/2020 11:40:57