Last year, for my Masters in Education at the University of Cambridge, I carried out a research project exploring the reading strategies that children with English as an Additional Language (EAL), and monolingual children with English as a first language, use in a paired reading task. Motivating my research was a recent report I read, which shows that the achievement gap in core subjects between pupils with English as a first language, and pupils with EAL, is largest for reading.
You are probably familiar with the term EFL, so how is EAL different? The biggest difference between EAL and EFL is setting. EFL involves learners who learn English whilst living in their home country, whilst EAL involves learners who learn English in the UK, typically in school. Despite my research focusing on EAL, I believe my findings are useful to those working with young learners in either context.
Previous reading achievement studies have found that EAL pupils score higher on measures of word reading accuracy than monolingual children, but achieve lower on measures of vocabulary and comprehension. This means that typically EAL pupils’ decoding is good, and they can read fluently, but on closer analysis, their comprehension is weak. Maybe you have made a similar observation with your young learners?