With over 40 nationalities making up our school community our classes are rich with multi-cultural diversity. We celebrate this diversity at the same time as realising that some students will need extra support with their English language when they join us.
Many of our pupils already speak enough English to access our curriculum, but for those who cannot we provide support both within the mainstream classroom and in separate specialist classes as necessary. Our staff are extremely experienced in welcoming children and parents from all around the world for whom English is not their mother tongue. We deal with children of all levels, from those who do not speak or understand a word, to those who simply need a little extra support with spelling or grammar. We are very practiced in assessing children coming from different educational backgrounds and systems and being aware of how that can initially impact on their learning in the classroom.
An individual approach
We appreciate that moving to a new country can be a difficult time for parents and children alike, and that the challenge of learning a new language can cause extra concerns – we are here to listen to those concerns and to help you and your child settle into school as quickly and smoothly as possible. That process starts from the very first time that you contact the admissions department. We treat all children as individuals and work hard to ensure that we fully understand the specific situation and needs of all our students.
What is the EAL programme used?
Learning English as a foreign language is different to learning English in a school where all the lessons are taught in English. Your child has to learn English to communicate (social purposes) and also English for all the different subjects (academic purposes).
Students who are new to learning English will begin by learning vocabulary needed to express their everyday needs and for normal school life. This will then be built upon as they progress and gain in knowledge and confidence. The level of support given to EAL beginners will be more intense when they first join Meridian International school and a wide range of resources will be used to support learning – including specialised computer programmes. The children also need to be able to work in their classroom on the same lessons as their classmates. Of course this is not easy when you are at the early stages of understanding and using English. So the class teachers differentiate the lessons to enable all children to take part.
This means they may give a different text to be read, or ask children to work on the same learning objective but in a different way, or they may ask a fluent user of English to record another child’s ideas for them. There are many different ways!
The EAL teachers also work in classrooms with the class teacher. The EAL teacher will focus on the English language development and the class teacher the subject content. Together they meet the needs of an EAL learner.
Helping your child
How do we help your child?
We use an integrated skills approach focusing on the skills of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing using a knowledge of Grammar, Vocabulary and Pronunciation.
We help your child in various different ways: by supporting him or her in the classroom helping them to access their lessons; by giving them small group lessons to improve their English; by providing them with the specific language they need to study their other lessons; by giving them homework and by providing them with reading materials for use at home.
How can you help your child?
One of the most important ways you can help your child is by reading with them in English. We will provide graded books and resources appropriate to your child’s level to support you with this, but please do not forget the importance of your child’s first language – they should continue to use their mother tongue as well as English.
How will my child communicate at first?
Don’t worry, most children are very good at using gestures and demonstrating to communicate their most immediate needs!
We use a lot of visual resources to support communication and of course technology – such as Google translate. If possible we use adults who can speak your child’s language so they can communicate their needs straight away and also to translate instructions and important information. If your child can read and write in another language, then in the settling in phase, they are encouraged to use this to complete work in the classroom. Using the language they are already literate in helps them to settle in quickly and allows them to work at their level whilst developing English. We also use other children who act as translators or who can help a new child to settle in and feel welcome.
How long before my child is fluent?
This is a very difficult question to answer! What is fluent? Most of the children who come to the Primary Schools are able to communicate with their teachers and friends successfully within one year, but they may be making many errors. We encourage the children to communicate and speak even if they make mistakes. Your child’s progress will depend on their personality, their age, their previous school experience and how quickly they can settle into their new school.