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Chapter 19 – Teaching english language learners

Chapter Summary

It is vital that teachers of EAL children respect, support and empower children to feel proud of their bilingual skills and their efforts to learn English. Where possible, encourage the involvement of the parents or others who speak the child’s native language to participate in classroom activities. Other English-speaking children in the class should be supportive of EAL learners/children. Always remember that children are all different and therefore learn at different rates and under different conditions. Teachers need to encourage and praise all efforts made by children when trying to learn a new language, and be aware of their interactions and any assumptions about language and culture. Remember that good literacy instruction is useful for all children, not just EAL learners/children. Strive to create a positive and supportive environment where the children feel they are able to experiment and practise language skills without reprimand. It is important to be patient and supportive of children’s attempts to master English. Be creative with your classroom practice, incorporating as many different media and techniques as possible. Create an environment of respect and empathy among all children. Try to create links with parents and take their wishes into account as much as possible. Finally, empower the child at every opportunity.

Study Questions

Main ideas

What is the continuum of additional language learning?
What are the main approaches for teaching English to young children?
What are the stages of learning an additional language?

Diverse learners

Read the case study from Green Park Preschool. Describe the ways the teacher assisted bilingual children.


Assessing children’s learning of an additional language is similar or different from assessing children’s English as their home language. What do you think?

Teaching plans

Read and select three teaching activities that would work with all children, not just children learning English.