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Home learning tips for children who use English as an additional language (EAL)

Photo: 13% of deaf children use an additional spoken language to English in the home

If you and your family regularly use another spoken language, that's not English or Welsh, then you're not alone. We know that 13% of deaf children use an additional spoken language in the home.

There are lots of benefits to speaking two or more languages. Not only children can communicate with a range of friends, families and adults but speaking two or more languages can also help with learning. Children use the knowledge and skills they have in one language to help them to understand and learn in the other language(s). Watch our video where Alina and Marius tell us why they decided to move to the UK with their deaf daughter Irina and about their experience of speaking English as an additional language (EAL).

We all worry about our children falling behind during this time, but if your child is deaf and learning in a language that's not your own, online learning may feel very overwhelming. Not only do you need to understand what your child is learning about but also understand and read English well enough to support your child. We also know that your child may be new to English or still developing their reading and writing skills.

We asked Katherine Solomon from The Bell Foundation for her top five tips for families supporting their child’s leaning at home. Katherine suggested the following: 

  1. Ask your school to help you by providing the information that you and your child need in a way that works for you. For example, schools could use videos or simple English with pictures. Suggest that your child’s teacher looks at these ideas and resources
  2. Find out if there's a member of staff who shares the same language as you and your child. The staff member could help translate resources and activities both verbally and in written form. Or ask a family member or someone in your community with a good level of English to help your child translate tasks sent home by the school. The Bell Foundation have created a guide with advice on supporting your child with home learning in 11 different languages.
  3. Use the language that you are most comfortable in to help your child with home learning. Your child can still learn curriculum content in their first language, and it may help them to feel supported and comfortable. If your child doesn't want to use their first language with you, or they're worried about speaking English at school, then speak to them about the benefits of multilingualism. You can find more information about multilingual support from the Bell Foundation.
  4. If possible, connect with other families who share similar challenges. Together you can support each other to understand the school system and work with school to develop their online learning offer. Find out more about how the English school system works and how you can help your child learn.
  5. Make sure you have the learning materials, equipment and technology that your child needs to participate actively in home learning. Talk to your school about what you need and ask them for help with learning materials.

Here are some resources and websites that could help you and your child with home learning.