Elzbieta Gryzlo

MA Education TEFL dissertation prize winner 2015

How effective is the EAL programme used to support literacy development of new to English primary school children?


In the contemporary linguistically diverse English society, educational provision for children who speak English as an additional language (EAL) still remains inconsistent and is often shaped by various, sometimes contrasting assumptions rather than informed pedagogies and training. Adopting a micro-ethnographic perspective, this study aims to explore the effectiveness of an EAL programme implemented in a multi-ethnic primary school to support literacy development of children new to English (NTE). This study focuses on the way EAL provision was organized and managed by a Bilingual Teaching Assistant (BTA), highlighting various factors that influenced her perception of what constitutes adequate EAL support. Drawing from concepts of Second Language Learning and EAL literature this study also discusses the extent to which the programme meets the complex needs of NTE children. The findings indicate that withdrawal sessions focused on decontextualized language use are still adopted to support NTE children. This leads to a conclusion that assimilationist and deficit perspectives are still present in current EAL provision. This study also concludes that the low status assigned to EAL in education is maintained by, inter alia, lack of appropriate training of BTAs, which if introduced, would lead to the validation of their role and their further empowerment.