EAL - (English as an additional language) definition
A pupil’s first language is defined as any language other than English that a child was exposed to during early development and continues to be exposed to in the home or community. If a child was exposed to more than one language (which may include English) during early development, a language other than English should be recorded, irrespective of the child’s proficiency in English.
At Mighty Oaks Little Acorns we have multilingual staff who are experienced in supporting children with EAL. We recognise the importance of home languages as an asset, and the first language has a continuing and significant role in identity, learning and the acquisition of additional languages.
Children need to develop strong foundations in the language that is dominant in the home environment, where most children spend most of their time. Home language skills are transferable to new languages and strengthen children’s understanding of language use. Developing and maintaining a home language as the foundation for knowledge about language will support the development of English and should be encouraged.
Insistence on an English-only approach to language learning in the home is likely to result in a fragmented development where the child is denied the opportunity to develop proficiency in either language. The best outcome is for children and their families to have the opportunity to become truly bilingual with all the advantages this can bring. Home languages are also vital for maintaining positive family connections. It is therefore very important to maintain the language of the home, particularly where older family members who care for children do not speak English. Otherwise this may mean that eventually they are no longer able to have proper meaningful conversations with each other.