School Approaches to the Education of EAL Students

Language development, social integration and achievement

About the research

This report presents interim findings from a three year research project by a multi-disciplinary team at Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University. The first phase of the project aimed to extend the understanding of pedagogic and social issues relating to language development, social integration and educational achievement of children with English as an Additional Language (EAL). The project explored the approaches to the education of children with EAL at two case study schools in the East of England.

Some key findings include:

  • Educational achievement: There is an absence of appropriate and sufficient pupil achievement data (at national, regional and school level) which measure the link between achievement and factors such as English proficiency, length of stay in UK school, national origin, economic and social disadvantage and prior academic achievement.
  • Language development: There appears to be a variety of different multilingual practices and strategies to enhance the language development of EAL learners. School staff, parent and student views on the use of English and home language vary considerably, with lack of language policy and guidance contributing to disparate classroom practice.
  • Social integration: Staff in both case study schools expressed their support for a multilingual and multicultural school environment. A range of strategies are in place to meet the goals of social integration, but it is challenging to conceptualise social integration and to monitor the progress towards it.

Further findings are presented in brief in the Executive summary and in the full report.