The communication skills of children for whom English is not their home language are not homogeneous. These children will be at different stages of learning English and one or more other languages. Learning English as an additional language is not a special educational need. Practitioners need to find out as much as they can about a child’s prior language experience and any education experienced elsewhere. Parents and carers, as the first educators, are an important source of information.
Underpinning the EYFS Profile assessment is the understanding that language is central to our sense of identity and belonging to a community, and that linguistic diversity is a strength that is recognised and valued. Practitioners may need to share with parents the understanding that a child’s home language development will help them learn English.
Parents also need to know that it is perfectly acceptable, even desirable, for the child’s home language to be used in the school or setting. Practitioners will need to observe the child over time and raise questions with the parents, and/or bilingual support assistants, to be confident about what the child knows and understands.
There are three aspects specific to the assessment of children for whom English is not their home language:
· development in their home language
· development across areas of learning, assessed through their home language
· development of English
Within the EYFS Profile the early learning goals for Communication and Language, and for Literacy, must be assessed in relation to the child’s competency in English. The remaining ELGs may be assessed in the context of any language – including the child’s home language and English.
This has implications for provision. The principles of good practice for children learning English are the principles of good practice for all children. Children must have opportunities to engage in activities and first hand experiences that do not depend solely on English for success, and where they can participate in ways that reveal what they know and can do in the security of their home language. For children to grow in confidence, and hence demonstrate their embedded learning, their environment must reflect their cultural and linguistic heritage and their learning be supported by a wide range of stimuli and experiences.”
The British Association for Early Childhood Education