Oral language intervention for children with EAL

Children who have English as an additional language (EAL) often have lower language skills and poorer literacy achievement than their monolingual peers.

This study evaluated the 'Get Ready for Learning' programme, an oral language intervention designed for children with EAL and monolingual children with language weaknesses.

The study follows on from the Nuffield Language4Reading project, which evaluated a similar intervention for children with English as their first language. The previous study demonstrated that the intervention was effective in improving oral language and early literacy skills in pre-school children with language weaknesses.

Findings

The programme was successful in teaching new vocabulary to children learning EAL and monolingual children with language weaknesses. However, the programme did not result in improvements to more general language skills.

A final report discusses possible reasons for these results, focusing on the design of the intervention, the implementation of the programme and the children taking part.

The staff taking part in the feasibility study reported that they found it difficult to fit the programme in to the school timetable and that the children taking part in the programme may not have been those most suited to this approach.

However, staff were very positive about the programme and felt that the children taking part had increased in confidence over the course of the intervention. Given this feedback, it may be the case that alternative models of intervention involving parents and volunteers may need to be explored, and that intervention needs to be more carefully targeted to the needs of specific children.

On a positive note, it may be the case that lack of treatment effects reflects an increased awareness of the importance of language in the classroom resulting in all children receiving rich language input, not just those receiving intervention.