EAL stands for English as an Additional language.
At Little Hands we support children who are learning English as an additional language by offering a range of different resources, activities and opportunities. Some of these include; offering a range of books in different languages, we speak to parents about key phrases and words which they might use at home, regularly celebrate and learn about different countries and their cultures.
Children are supported from their initial stay and play appointment. We do this by asking parents what languages are spoken at home and if they have any key phrases/keywords which they could share with us. This will progress to members of staff using these phrases and words to communicate with the child/children at nursery too. Conversations will continuously happen between the staff and the child/children’s parents to ensure we are updating any words or phrases which are relevant to the child.
We also support those learning English as an additional language by offering a range of activities and resources including books with different languages, activities which support celebrating different celebrations around the world. We promote and recognise differences to give children a clear understanding of different cultures and differences between themselves and their peers.
Little Hands use Makaton throughout the setting to ensure the children can communicate. Makaton is a registered language that our whole staff team uses to support communication with children. The signs are integrated into many familiar daily routines and give children additional visual support to understand language and communication. We use signs such as, please, thank you, more, yes and no. Children who are learning English as an additional language can find Makaton useful when learning new words or interpreting new elements of their routine to also have a simple sign to further represent the words being spoken. Children can engage with and begin to use signs for themselves from an extremely young age and so our staff teams introduce simple signs in our 0-2 age ranges and throughout the rest of the nursery. We will also use visuals for children to be able to understand the routine and what is coming next in their routine. Staff will use visuals and Makaton to get an understanding of what the children want/need.
Children who are learning English as an additional language may experience slower progression with their communication and language development. This is entirely normal and it should not deter a family from continuing to speak their home language in the home environment. Where a language delay may appear in the English language, our team will work closely with families to consider whether a delay is also present within the home language. It is usually the case that children are in line with typical development in their home language and are catching up in relation to English, after all; these incredible little ones are learning 2 languages at once! Little Hands works closely with additional agencies such as Speech and Language Therapists who can greatly support children and families who are learning English as an additional language. Their support can be helpful to evaluate whether additional interventions would be useful for each individual child and can give additional peace of mind to families.
To discuss this further, please feel free to speak to a member of our leadership team at any branch.