What is English as an Additional Language?
So, what is English as an Additional Language and what does it mean for your kids? The meaning of EAL is pretty simple – it refers to teaching English to students who are native speakers of another language. Since students may be fluent in several other languages, we use the term ‘additional’ instead of ‘second’.
EAL learners may have varying levels of English knowledge, with some children learning from scratch, and others having some pre-existing knowledge but perhaps speaking another language at home, as well as English.
If children are learning English from scratch for the first time, it can be common for them to go through a non-verbal or silent period. This is a perfectly normal response to the change and upheaval associated with learning to communicate in a new language. In the case of International New Arrivals, children will also be adapting to transitioning to a new country, which can be an additional source of stress or anxiety that may contribute to a silent period.
All children are different, so it’s important to assess things on a case-by-case basis. Some children may understand more than they can say. Others may benefit from using visual communication cards and resources! However they like to communicate, it’s important to remember that a non-verbal period is no cause for concern, and it’s still possible for children to learn lots during that time.