English project responds to needs of teachers of young EAL learners in UK schools

A new English project is supporting the needs of teachers to develop skills for teaching young learners with English as an additional language (EAL) in UK schools.

The EAL Nexus project, funded by the European Integration Fund, the British Council and The Bell Foundation, has launched a new website to support teachers in their preparation for educating EAL learners.

The dedicated site is the first of its kind for UK teachers and contains an accessible database of materials to help teach EAL learners. The materials follow the different school curricula across the UK and come with comprehensive notes for teachers to ensure EAL learners in mainstream education are better supported.

With over one million EAL learners in UK schools, research carried out for the government in 2013 revealed that teaching these students is the area of work newly qualified teachers say they feel least equipped for. The project aims to directly tackle that issue by engaging with learners and teachers on the EAL Nexus site, as well as through a series of workshops and seminars. The seminar series is being developed in collaboration with The Bell Foundation and the National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC).

Melanie Griffin, EAL Nexus Co-ordinator for Teacher Development at the British Council, said: “With over one million EAL learners in UK schools, it is important that projects like EAL Nexus are in place to ensure these learners and their teachers are well supported.

“It is fantastic to be sharing our expertise in English Language Teaching to bring this programme to EAL learners and their teachers across the UK. Our hope is that in creating quality online teaching materials and providing support through the wider EAL Nexus project, teachers across the country will feel better prepared to teach EAL learners in their classrooms. Not only should the project allow us to make strong progress in developing the UK’s EAL sector but will also help ensure that EAL learners feel included within the educational setting and wider community.”

Diana Sutton, Director of The Bell Foundation, said “We are delighted to be a funder of this project.  Having a one stop shop for EAL learners and teachers is an important step forward making it easier for good practice to be shared between schools and communities.”

The materials available on the EAL Nexus website are expected to reach further than the teachers and young EAL learners, with parents and members of migrant communities also being encouraged to sign up to the website or join the mailing list. The website includes a section for parents with information on the UK education systems and how to support their children through school in the UK.

The project will also work closely with teachers and other school staff in 24 pilot schools across the UK to improve understanding of the needs of EAL teaching and improve school provisions for EAL learners. This includes EAL teaching toolkits and modules of teacher development being produced for schools and a series of workshops for teachers on best practice for educating EAL learners.

The new EAL Nexus site is accessible at http://eal.britishcouncil.org/

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