EAL Strategies and Great Ideas

The Great Ideas pages are a collection of different strategies that any teacher could use in their classrooms to support learners who use EAL.

Many of the teaching resources on this website refer to various tried and tested approaches and strategies which are recommended for EAL learners.

In this section of the website the rationale behind these methodologies and why they are called ‘Great Ideas’ are explained.

The majority of these approaches can be used with everyone in the class, but they are particularly important for EAL learners because they provide a rich context, additional support, opportunities for collaborative learning and exploratory talk, and all the important features of good practice in meeting the educational needs of EAL learners.

Explore the strategies

Barrier games are a specific form of an information gap activity. Information gap activities are communicative activities for two or more learners, where Learner A has information that Learner B needs, and vice versa. 

Bilingual dictionaries, including online bilingual dictionaries and translation software, are specialist dictionaries that can be used to translate from one language to another.

Vocabulary (the knowledge of words and word meanings) is one of the key building blocks in learning a new language. 

Collaborative activities are any activities where learners are working co-operatively in pairs or groups.

‘DARTs’ stands for Directed Activities Related to Text. When working with a text, DARTs provide an alternative to traditional comprehension questions as a way of assessing and encouraging understanding. 

Dictogloss is a type of supported dictation. The teacher reads a short, curriculum-related text several times and the learners try to produce their own version as close to the original as possible. 

Drama and role play can be fun and used successfully in any area of the curriculum. There are many ways of using drama and role play.

Early literacy word work refers to learning activities which focus on individual words or short phrases, and which are designed to support learners to read and write for the first time.

Enhanced conversations occur when learners propose ideas (explain, interpret, imagine, justify, etc.), provide evidence and challenge each other.

Flashcards are picture cards and can be used on their own or with word cards.

Focusing on grammar patterns is about drawing learners’ attention to different aspects of grammar, and making grammar explicit while teaching the subject content of lessons.

'Talk to writing' occurs when a teacher plans scaffolded activities that allow learners to orally rehearse explicit vocabulary, sentence, and language structures that they require in order to write.

Graphic organisers are also sometimes known as key visuals. They are not simply images, they are ways of presenting information visually. 

Information gap (also known as information exchange) activities are communicative activities for two or more learners. 

Jigsaw activities are a specific type of information gap activity that work best when used with the whole class. 

Language drills are a way of memorising a chunk of language by repeating it. They can be a very effective approach for learning new vocabulary or language structures.

Modelling is providing learners with a written or oral model of the language that the teacher would like the learner to produce.

Questioning strategies involve the ability to ask the right questions at the right time; it is a powerful tool to guide learning, stretch pupils' thinking, check for understanding and build confidence in pupils.

Reading involves both decoding and reading for meaning. Many EAL learners are highly literate in one or more languages, but some may not have had the opportunity to learn to read in the language of their home.

Scaffolding means providing temporary support for an inexperienced learner in order to help them to complete a task or acquire a skill, and then gradually withdrawing that support.

Speaking and writing frames provide models of sentence construction, language structures, and vocabulary for EAL learners to use orally within a curriculum context.

A substitution table is when a teacher provides a table giving model sentences with a range of choices for learners to select from, using a set pattern.

Translanguaging is the term used to describe practices that allow and encourage EAL learners to use their full linguistic repertoire in order to empower them and help them to realise their full potential.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can be a very supportive tool for EAL learners, both for developing skills that are important, and as a complementary resource for classroom activities. 

Visuals provide context so that EAL learners can make sense of what is being taught in the curriculum. 

Upcoming courses and webinars

Embedding EAL Assessment (Online Course)

4 June 2024
Online course

EAL Learners and Science (Webinar)

5 June 2024

How to Adapt Teaching for Learners Who Use EAL (Online Course)

17 September 2024
£45 – £67.50
Online course