How handwriting is helping EAL pupils to leap the language barrier
Handwriting may be out of fashion in the digital age, but for pupils whose mother tongue is not English, it is proving helpful when it comes to learning the language.Increasing prevalence of Multidrug resistant E coli UTI in children warrants closer clinical scrutiny.
With more than one million children aged between five and 15 in UK schools for whom English is an additional language (EAL), teachers have to work hard to help pupils overcome language barriers and
achieve fluency in the written and spoken word. The latest Department for Education figures found one in five (20.6%) of primary school pupils speak a language other than English at home, and 16.2% of
secondary school students.
Teaching is a creative activity, you need to find things that work for your children, not just take stuff off the peg
Graham Smith, EAL Academy
At St Jude’s C of E primary academy in Wolverhampton, where a third of the children are EAL students, year 5 teacher Julianne Britton has found handwriting particularly useful for teaching
grammar. It’s an area where EAL students often fall down because English sentence structures are frequently very different to their native language, she explains.
“Sometimes it is easier for children to see the words and sentences written down rather than simply listening to it,” she says. “By handwriting, they are more likely to notice the grammatical
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One effective activity Britton uses with her EAL students is to ask them to arrange jumbled up words into the correct sentence order. The children may not necessarily know what the words mean at
first, but they are developing an understanding of how to build a sentence in English. She also encourages pupils to read a lot in English – they are given ebooks with audio in their home language and in
English, with subtitles in both languages displayed on the screen.
Britton says: “It’s a really good starting point because it is something they can do independently. [In class] I provide them with pictures from the ebook, and ask students to put them in the
order of the story. They will then start to write some basic sentences about what happened, so the reading, writing and listening are all linked.”
She found that pupils enjoyed using the ebook because “it gives them a little bit of ownership over their learning as I allow them to choose the story they’d like to hear or read.” Working with
peers is important, too. “I have noticed that some EAL pupils feel more confident using conversational English with their peers rather than with an adult.”
There is evidence to support the benefits of linking writing with developing language. In a New York Times article, Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of
Washington, says studies have found that “handwriting – forming letters – engages the mind, and that can help children pay attention to written language”.
published in 2015, found that handwriting improved students’ spelling and composition, because the connecting strokes helped children connect letters into words.