English as an Additional Language

The Department for Education (DfE) records a pupil as using EAL if ‘they are exposed to a language at home that is known or believed to be other than English. There are now more than one million learners in UK schools who speak English as an additional language (EAL). This represents a considerable proportion of our school population. At St Joseph's we have 28% of children who have English as an Additional Language which is above the national average of 21%. We have 29 different languages spoken at St Joseph's 


At St Joseph's Catholic Primary School we aim to work together to meet the full range of needs of these children and their families, ensuring they all feel valued at our school.


Our EAL learners are an asset to our school and our community and bring a new dimension to our school. These children can share experiences and cultures from other countries and bring an international perspective, helping their peers understand different cultures, people and points of view better. Our EAL learners also have extra language skills they can share and bring to the school and to the UK when they grow up. The potential among EAL learners for bilingualism is particularly important, as it increases mental ability such as problem-solving and creativity.  Our teachers therefore consider the role of learners’ first language and are aware that the acquisition of a new language goes hand-in-hand with cognitive and academic development.


Most classes in our school have EAL learners in them. As with other groups of learners, our teachers adapt their lessons to make sure that all learners can get the most out of lessons. They do this by involving learners in activities where the language is challenging but appropriate to their abilities and interests. Teachers aim to give status to EAL children’s skills in their own language(s) and acknowledge the time it takes to become fluent in an additional language.  The skills and needs of pupils with EAL are assessed on admission and appropriate provision is provided according to their needs. We use a range of different strategies to support children as they develop fluency for the English language, thus enhancing both their social and academic experiences within the school environment.


Here are some of the main principles of teaching in our school which enable EAL learners to progress well:

  • Activating prior learning
    Activities that enable learners to activate their prior knowledge of the topic of the lesson facilitate greater understanding and engagement. Example strategies include taking advantage of the learner’s first language and finding out what the learner knows through questioning.
  • Providing a rich context
    EAL learners will benefit from being provided with additional contextual support to help them make sense of the information conveyed to them in English. The use of images and graphic organisers (e.g. diagrams, grids, charts, timelines) are very useful for this purpose.
  • Making the English language explicit in the classroom
    Within the context of the curriculum, learners with EAL can be encouraged to notice the language used and understand how it is used. This implies pointing out key forms and structures that allow pupils to meet the language demands of the tasks. Strategies include providing oral and written models and scaffolding speaking and writing through speaking and writing frames.
  • Developing learners’ independence
    The independence of learners who use EAL can be fostered by developing their organisational, thinking and social skills (for instance, working co-operatively with others, taking turns and asking for help). In terms of organisational and thinking skills, teachers can provide learners with opportunities to model and extend what has been taught and support them in developing note taking and summary-writing skills. Social and cultural norms in the classroom will need to be made explicit to the learners. Pupils might be used to different rules and codes of behaviour in school in other countries; for instance, in Japan it is inappropriate to look a teacher in the eye whilst many teachers will expect it in an English school. Teachers can convey information about school social skills by translating simple lists or presenting them pictorially for the learners. Providing a new arrival learner with a buddy speaking the same language, who can explain these different cultural school norms, is another way of doing so.
  • Supporting learners with EAL to extend their vocabulary
    EAL learners at all levels need to be given opportunities to grow their English vocabulary range. This could be done by taking advantage of their first language(s) through translation, the use of flashcards and images. It is important to remember to develop the learner’s academic language skills, for instance by focusing on the differences between formal and informal vocabulary.




Celebration of Language

Every month we endeavour to celebrate language and culture and this year, we will focus on the most common languages spoken in our school. We kindly invite any families in, who would like to share their language and culture in assembly with the rest of the school. Please contact the school office if you would like to volunteer!

Autumn 1: Portuguese 
Autumn 2: Telugu
Spring 1: Chinese 
Spring 2: Slovak
Summer 1: Greek
Summer 2: Sign Language

We know that this is just a selection of the languages spoken at St Joseph's, and next year we will focus on some of the other languages. In the meantime, we welcome you to speak to the class teacher and organise for your child to share their language and culture with the class.



We are very proud of our pupils who have English as an Additional Language and they achieve well at St Joseph's. However, we provide support for pupils who are new to English in years 2-6 through targeted interventions.



Young Interpreters

Young Interpreters is school project where children from KS2 that are excellent speakers of English, both monolingual and bilingual, support children who are newly arrived in the country or those who speak a different language at home and are not yet confident using English. Young Interpreters spend time reading books and playing games with their buddies, helping them make friends and develop English in a fun way. At the same time, Young Interpreters themselves are learning how to be more empathetic, caring and improving their communication skills.



Download these short, easy to understand guides for some of our most commonly used first languages, They provide guidance for parents on how to get involved in school life and to help their child to learn.



Helping Children Learn

Guidance-for-Parents-FV-Urdu.pdf .pdf
Guidance-for-Parents-FV-Polish.pdf .pdf
Guidance-for-Parents-FV-Bengali.pdf .pdf
Guidance-for-Parents-Chinese-Traditional.pdf .pdf
Guidance-for-Parents-FV-English.pdf .pdf
Guidance-for-Parents-FV-Spanish.pdf .pdf
Guidance-for-Parents-FV-Bulgarian.pdf .pdf
Guidance-for-Parents-FV-Chinese.pdf .pdf
Guidance-for-Parents-FV-Arabic.pdf .pdf
Guidance-for-Parents-FV-Polish 1.pdf .pdf
Guidance-for-Parents-FV-Italian.pdf .pdf

About the English education system

Guide_for_parents_-_Primary_Schools_FV_Italian.pdf .pdf
Guide_for_parents_-_Primary_Schools_FV_Spanish.pdf .pdf
Guide_for_parents_-_Primary_Schools_FV_Gujarati.pdf .pdf
Guide_for_parents_-_Primary_Schools_FV_Polish.pdf .pdf
Guide_for_parents_-_Primary_Schools_FV_urdu.pdf .pdf
Guide_for_parents_-_Primary_Schools_FV_Arabic.pdf .pdf
Guide-for-parents-Primary-Schools-FV-English.pdf .pdf
Guide-for-Parents-Primary-Schools-Chinese-Traditional.pdf .pdf
Guide_for_parents_-_Primary_Schools_FV_Chinese-Simplified 1.pdf .pdf