EAL students are from various first-language backgrounds, and some of them can even speak more than one first language. It’s what gives them their English as an Additional Language status. As a parent, you need to know how to teach EAL students — especially your own.
What do they have in common?
EAL students receive education in a predominantly English-speaking country. As a parent, you know whether your child is a beginner or a student already advanced in English. Your child can even sound like native English speakers.
Lots of teachers enjoy teaching EAL learners, because students like these bring new perspectives and approaches to solving problems in the classroom.
But they’re not perfect. Some EAL students might require some individual attention, or have trouble adjusting to a new school system.
But one thing to know though is that even if you have no formal education background, you can still help your frustrated student. You, as the parent, are their biggest supporter, and through you, they can get access to tools, strategies, and resources they need to be an achiever at school.
English Can Be a Complicated Language
English isn’t the easiest language to learn. That is the case even for native speakers. The English language is full of exceptions to the rules already in place, and there are more sounds than there are letters.
That means there’s more than one way to write the same sound, and more than one way of pronouncing letters or letter combination. That complicates the process of teaching writing and reading. It makes it harder for students to spell unfamiliar words or sound them out.
Some EAL students can feel disadvantaged at school. They might feel hesitant to read aloud in front of class because they fear they might misread some words. Sometimes, participating in class discussions can be stressful for an EAL student who might not be confident enough in their language skills to speak spontaneously yet.
How to Teach EAL Students
As their school life progresses, some learners might develop strong speaking skills while they struggle with writing and reading. On the other hand, others might prefer books, worksheet resources, and writing assignments while shying away from class discussions.
For parents, here’s how to teach EAL students and supplement them with information they really need.
#1 Teaching vocabulary
Vocabulary lets students be more successful at school. Whether it’s for classroom activity, a homework assignment, or the subject in general. This is the case for EAL learners who are often behind compared to their native speaker peers when it comes to English vocabulary.
Because if they don’t have receptive knowledge of keywords, it’s hard to make meaning out of content, let alone use unfamiliar words in speaking exercises or productive writing.
Get a tutor for vocabulary if you feel the need to.
#2 Provide strategies
Teaching older kids or young adults a new language at school is different from teaching children. It’s different compared to how kids get their mother tongue in infancy. This will need deliberate measures on the part of the learner to enhance aptitude for language, get grips on a new sound system, little speech, get vocabulary, and figure out grammar.
Students also need to keep their first language from getting in the way, something you, as a parent, can help with. Sometimes, it’s what causes them to make mistakes. For this reason, a teaching strategy instruction is important for EAL learners who must learn as effectively as possible.
#3 Give them tools
Teachers are not always going to be there to provide vocabulary explanations and assist EAL learners while they pick apart difficult reading materials.
For children and students alike, it’s important to have the tools they need to keep learning on their own and outside of a school environment. To add support, the Dicker Reading Method is readily available to act as additional support for your child’s learning.
Language and vocabulary apps for smartphones can be a big help. In addition, lots of learners also benefit from access to some typing programs. It’s even better if the program teaches them new skills and helps them master English spelling at the same time.
#4 Dedicate some time
Each individual processes information at their own pace. This applies to native speaker children, but it’s even more apparent to EAL students who are charged with understanding concepts foreign to them.
You can help EAL students by ensuring task difficulty levels are proper, but also that more time is dedicated to homework assignments and assessments. Where workload is concerned, your EAL learner might tire sooner as they undertake a more challenging task than their peers.
#5 Reassure and encourage them
EAL learners have their own set of weaknesses and strengths. Finding resources that can help them develop these strengths and talents is just as important as teaching and improving their weaknesses. And as EAL learners get new materials and become familiar with a new language, make sure you give them constant reassurance and encouragement.
Of course, learning and mastering English doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey before fluency is achieved. Any bit of praise and acknowledgment of their skills goes a long way to ensure that motivation is constant and confidence is built up to sustain them.