Edinburgh EAL strategies booklet:  Please click here

Helpful Hints for Settling in a Bilingual Pupil at Secondary Schools

  • Create an Inclusive and Welcoming Environment
  • Check that you know how to pronounce your pupil’s name before introducing him/her to the class and can spell it correctly.
  • Make sure that the rest of the class know a bilingual pupil is arriving and can pronounce his/her name and know where they come from.
  • Try to find out about his/her cultural background.
  • Relate the pupil’s background to the curriculum and enable the pupil to draw on his/her own experience.  Do not assume prior knowledge.
  • Ensure the new pupil relates to the environment by displaying labels and signs in the home languages in the classroom and around the school.  (Mantra)
  • Reflect diversity in visual displays and materials used across the school.
  • Give the pupil time to settle in – a silent or receptive period is quite normal.  This can last weeks or even months but the pupil is absorbing English all the time.

  Pairing and Mentoring

  • Set up a buddy system as soon as the pupil arrives where possible with a same language speaker.
  • Use friendly and out-going pupils who can act as guides.
  • Give a good model of English at all times.
  • If there is another pupil with the same first language in another class make arrangements for them to meet at appropriate times.

 Practical Activities

Create opportunities for the pupil to become practically involved in the classroom, using a partner first eg:   

  •  Distributing equipment
  • Collecting exercise books
  • Finding out where things are kept
  • Getting to know the layout of the classroom and then the school
  • Knowing where the nearest toilet is
  • Understanding what to do at breaks and lunchtime
  • Getting to know the layout of the classroom and then the school
  • Knowing where the nearest toilet is
  • Understanding what to do at breaks and lunchtime

Use of First Language

  • Encourage regular transfer between first language and English and show that the pupil’s first language is valued, fostering self-respect and motivation by:
  • Learning a few simple phrases, numbers, colours
  • Providing opportunities for pupils to work in same language pairs/groups
  • Making bilingual books/summary sheets

If pupils are literate in their first language, by encouraging them to continue reading and writing in it too

  • Allow pupils to :
  • Listen to bilingual taped stories
  • Use home language in dramas and role play
  • Ask parents and other adults to offer bilingual support

Language Awareness

Foster awareness and knowledge of language in your class by:

  • Gaining a simple understanding or the pupil’s first language; simple phrases, basic script form and syntactical differences
  • Teaching pupils about the varieties of language within and between countries
  • Studying the difference between written and spoken English and different registers, codes and dialects of spoken English
  • Knowing appropriate use of English in different situations

Parental Involvement

Develop parents’ ability to reinforce the school’s work from home and create and open dialogue for the school to become better informed about the pupil’s development by:

  • Using an interpreter or bilingual language assistant at meetings. Especially the initial meeting
  • Advising parents how to support their child’s language development bilingually, for example sharing picture books in first language.
  • Giving clear guidance about the Scottish Education system and the curriculum
  • Ensuring all correspondence with parents is in a format they can use.

Teacher Talk

  • Limit teacher talk
  • One instruction at a time
  • Repetition of instructions
  • Rephrasing    

Key Words

  • Give short vocabulary lists or key words for each unit of work.
  • Illustrate key words with simple pictures.
  • Pre-teach key words before a unit and/or lesson.
  • Create a glossary book for the pupil to record new words
  • If the pupil is literate in the first language key words should be recorded in the first language, with definition in the first language.
  • Limit written materials at first.