Previously University of Winchester now Reading University UK, Hampshire local authority EMT.
The numbers of EAL learners and the range of languages spoken in UK schools have risen substantially in the past 15 – 20 years. According to the National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum (NALDIC) “There are more than a million children between 5–16 years old in UK schools who speak in excess of 360 languages between them in addition to English. Currently there are a 1,061,010 bilingual 5-16 year olds in English schools, 29,532 in Scotland, 10,357 ‘newcomer’ pupils in Northern Ireland and 31,132 EAL learners in Wales”.
EAL learners in one school will have very different languages and heritages from those in another school. This means that schools and teachers need to be sensitive to differences beyond language differences and avoid the assumption that being an EAL learner of itself is the only aspect of a child’s identity that needs attention.