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Supporting deaf children who speak English as an additional language

Published Date: 06 Feb 2019

Did you know that 13% of deaf children across the UK speak English as an additional language (EAL)?

We know that there’s no reason why deaf children can’t achieve as well as other children, providing they receive the right support, right from the start. However, we know that some groups, such as children who speak EAL, can face more challenges and barriers than others. EAL learners are already learning English while at the same time being taught in classrooms on a daily basis in the language they might not yet have mastered. Being deaf can make this even more challenging.

This is borne out by government attainment figures – in 2017, 20% of deaf EAL learners in England achieved a grade 5 in both English and Maths in 2017. This compares to 29% of deaf children generally and 47% of all EAL learners generally.

This is why we’re really excited about a new resource we’ve just launched Supporting the achievement of deaf children who use English as an additional language, as well as an accompanying short top-tips video.

The resources are aimed at Teachers of the Deaf but may also be helpful for EAL coordinators, any other education professional working with deaf EAL learners, as well as parents too.

The new resources set out the challenges that deaf EAL learners face and provides information, practical resources and teaching strategies and ideas on how to address them.

It includes, for example, advice on engaging with families who have children are deaf EAL learners. It addresses head-on a question we get asked a lot around which language families should use with their child - their home language or English only? Most professionals and academics agree that parents of deaf children should use their home language (the one the family is most fluent in) with their child as much as possible. As well as helping the child bond with their parents and family, using the home language also makes acquiring other languages easier when they already have a solid first language in place. Using the home language within the home can also help families share values, traditions and cultural identities.

The resource also includes advice on classroom strategies and assessments, as well a few case studies.

You can watch the video and download the resource by going to The resources have been produced with funding and support from the lovely people at The Bell Foundation, who provide advice and support on children who use EAL. We’d also like to thank Laycock school for being the stars of the new video.

We’ve love to hear your feedback on the new resources – let us know what you think by emailing [email protected].

Ian Noon

Ian is Chief Policy Advisor at the National Deaf Children’s Society.