Welcoming New Arrivals
Initial Meeting With Parents
- Arrange a meeting with the parents, EAL coordinator and an interpreter (if necessary) before the child joins your school. (contact your Advisory Teacher to book an interpreter)
- Complete the EMTAS New Arrival Form to register the new pupil with us.
- You can use the Initial Meeting guide (below)
- Check pronunciation of children's names.
- Reassure parents that maintaining and developing the home language will support learning English and enable the child to communicate with their extended family.
- Find out about the child’s prior learning experiences and their abilities in their home language
- Ensure that information about school processes are given at this time
- Have a tour of the school
- Provide parents with a translated Welcome to Devon Primary Schools leaflet - find in Bilingual Resources
- Introduce the pupil and family to class teacher and other relevant members of staff.
- Introduce the pupil to a pupil buddy who will support the new arrival during the first few days.
- Ensure that there is a recognised, and understood, system of communication between home and school (home/school book or reading diary ) and a Key member of staff to communicate with the family.
- Make sure that parents know start date and whether there is to be a staggered entry and whether they can stay with their child on the first day
- Learn key words and phrases in the child’s home language and teach them to the whole class
- Display different languages and scripts throughout the school to show that all language backgrounds are welcome.
- Make signs and labels in other languages and use dual language books within the classroom.
- Find cultural background information and links to traditional food/holidays etc. to use as curriculum references
- Encourage parents' active participation in the school especially for bilingual label writing and sharing of cultural information.
- Select appropriate "buddies" who will show the new pupil around.
- Use a visual timetable to show the format for the day
Working with Newly Arrived Pupils - The Silent Period
The Silent Period
An initial silent period, which may last for a very short time, or even months, is a natural stage when learning a language. This is part of normal development for EAL pupils and children are not passive at this stage. It is a time for listening, and tuning into the language and routines of the lessons. It is important not to make pupils feel anxious or under pressure to speak; they are absorbing lots of information.
Do not panic – the “Silent Period” is only a cause for concern if it is prolonged – it could last for several months.
Clarke (1992) suggests 10 strategies for support during the Silent Period:
- Continue talking even when the child does not respond.
- Continue to include the child within small groups of children
- Structure activities to encourage child to child interaction
- Model a variety of questions
- Use other children as the focus of the conversations
- Use First Language as often as possible
- Always accept non-verbal responses
- Constantly use praise, even for minimal effort
- Activities should include expected responses of repeating words and / or counting
- Provide activities which reinforce language practice through role-play
If the silent period is very prolonged then you would need to find out if there are any other issues beneath the language barrier using a home language assessment . You are advised to book this through your EAL Advisory Teacher.
This information may be key to inform any decision making process. It is important to collect a wide range of evidence and meet the parents with an interpreter if needed, to gain background information, especially about previous language development.