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Advice On Children With No English On Entry


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Hi all,

 

I have a new intake of children in reception and one child who is Lithuanian started with no English language. He he did not attend a nursery and only speaks Lithuanian at home. He seems to be settling in well and understands the basic conventions of the class, in fact he is the best in terms of tidying up and helping. I would like some advice on how we can assisst him to increase his vocabulary and become confident speaking. It is only my second year in teaching and haven't had the experience of a child with no English at all.

 

Thanks in advance.

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You should be able to access support from the LA. Do the parents speak any English? My own experience of children with no english is pretty limited so cant offer much help other than to say its surprising how quickly children can converse happily in both their home language and 'school' language.

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I think the role play area and small world play are excellent for language development. Making a cup of tea, putting baby to bed etc. means that adult and child are both involved/playing together, chatting about intentions, what can be seen, what is happening and so on. Dual language books are useful, whether English is spoken at home or not. I also have acollection of 'baby' books, the sort that have simple bold illustrations/photos and we spend time looking at these together before progressig onto books with busier illustrations. I don't have access to help from the LA (independent school) Posy

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Guest DeborahF

I work in a nursery where the children speak 23 different languages so we come across this quite a lot! I think the first thing to work on is to make sure that he feels as welcome and relaxed as possible, so that he feels comfortable trying out his mastery of English when the time comes - personal, social and emotional development is an absolute priority, developing his confidence and self-esteem, encouraging him to watch and try new activities, etc.

 

Lots of gesturing and non verbal communication are also very important. For example, when we're doing the register we do a "thumbs up" sign to the children who don't speak English and encourage them to do it back to us. Eye contact is very important to share achievements, frustrations, etc.

 

Apart from that, just make sure that you're providing a language rich environment, with lots of opportunities for ALL the childen to talk. You'll find that he picks up an awful lot of language from the other children and that they are actually a very good "resource" for you. For example, in the role play area, they will often encourage and support the child because they want him/her to become a part of their play. That's really lovely to see happening. I think you'll be surprised about how much language learning goes on in these situations without YOUR input.

 

Above all, don't worry too much if you don't receive any immediate support from your LEA. We're lucky in that we do have quite a bit of bilingual support but we still have other children whose languages we have no knowledge or experience of. Even if he seems to have become silent after an initial period when he chatted away a lot in his OWN language, don't worry, he has realised that his first language isn't enabling him to communicate effectively and he is probably developing his understanding of English but doesn't feel he wants to try it out himself yet.

 

Hope this all makes sense! I'm sure you're already doing a great job!

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I agree with all that DehorahF has said! I work in an international school and we also work this way. Look forward to a couple of months and you will be amazed :o .

 

I had a boy last year who only spoke Dutch and when he returned from his Christmas holiday, he came back speaking only English... no Dutch anymore at school!

 

Try to find another child who has good English speaking (an behaviour) skills and ask him/her to approach the new child so he can have new friends. He will slowly open to the rest.

 

Best wishes!

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If some adult time can be found I would do a lot of 'pole bridging talk' That is a kind of running commentary on what he is doing. You could focus on repeating certain verbs or nouns.He will then hear the language modelled in context. The fact that he tidies up so well must mean he feels comfortable and is eager to learn.

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Hi Clare, you sound as if you are already doing quite a bit and you have had good suggestions fron others already. I just wanted to remind you that this second language aquisition will follow very similar lines as a baby learning to speak. he may well understand before he has the confidence to use his new language skills and providing his mother tongue is good he should pick up the English quite quickly. I worked for many years in a multicultural school and although we were lucky to have bilingual support staff, occasionally we had other languages and in general we found that if the children have good mother tongue skills their second laguage acquisition is good too.

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I agree with all that has been said. you have to think that the child in terms of language is starting off like a baby would one word at a time, the good thing is that the child has alot of knowledge behind it in terms of life experiences so they pick up things very quickly. don't push for any words until they feel comfortable. I have 6 children this year speaking 3 different languages. facial and hand gestures is our motto with the staff. good luck

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I agree with what has been said already. Just like to add - be patient. It is normal for a child to be in the setting for up to a year before they speak any English (although many children try some words before this). We have also found that children can sometimes seem frustrated just before they start to speak English, perhaps aware of their language limitations.

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