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A little boy has joined our setting who speaks no English, only Polish. Mum was reluctant to give us any words in Polish but did bring some with him ( although I've had to find phonetic versions!!).

Our school has never had a child ( in nursery or anywhere else) who didn't have any English so there is little information, although I have found some LA stuff.


Looking at other forum posts I saw that Catma mentioned the EYFS stating that the home language should be respected. We are not clear whether we should just be speaking in English to him ( the advice in school!) or should we be using words and phrases in Polish and also introducing English ones? He isn't remotely phased by us all chatting in English, but we want to do our best to help and support him.

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The main thing is to ensure that what you do with him while he develops some basic interpersonal communication skills is a clear context for your conversations with him. He will know what things are in polish - he just doesn't know in English yet!!


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Hi Madmum, didn't want to read and run.


We have had several children in our setting with no English at all. Our understanding of the importance of the home language is not so much that we should learn to speak it (I am quite sure that my pronunciation would be so off that it would be unintelligible!) but that our assessment of the child's development should not be lowered because of their different home language. The guidance states that all aspects except for Communication & Language can and should be assessed based on their abilities when using their home language not just English so for example if they can talk about size or count in Polish but not English we should be using information from home to make a more accurate judgement on their mathematics skills rather than saying that they can't do it because we haven't heard them do it in English.


In terms of things we do to support children with little or no English here are a few things:


Ensure that the parent has explained to the child that they are going but that they WILL be back. It is one thing to console a crying English speaker with 2don't worry Mummy will be back after we have had snack" etc... but nigh on impossible to convey that to a child who doesn't understand any English.


Although part of the respecting home languages approach is not to get parents talking only English to their child it is helpful if they teach them a few key words: toilet, drink, food etc... We also share with parents picture references if we feel a child is struggling to make their needs known.


try to have dual language books in the setting. These are becoming more readily available. What is nice is to let the parents take the book home and share it with the child in their home language and then to share it in school in English.



Yesterday my new class stayed for the first time without their parents. I was amazed and in awe of my three non English speakers (one has some understanding, the other two have zero English) who all came in, got stuck into playing, chatted to the other children in their home languages and had a whale of a time. It must be such a daunting prospect, well it would be for me, but being 3 years old they are a pretty adaptable bunch! My Italian girl grinned, waved and shouted Ciao to her Mum and Dad and skipped in this morning.




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  • 5 weeks later...

hi there,


mantralingua has so great resources to support children with english as additional language.

we have 5 polish children, and now just started turkish and 1 philapeno.

let me know if i can help. i know some polish if you need any help there.

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