Teaching Strategies

Effective Teaching Strategies


EAL learners spend most of their time in mainstream classes.


Although welcoming, integrating, and providing extra supports are important factors in the inclusion of EAL learners, the most effective action is to build subject teacher capacity in managing, differentiating and planning for EAL learners.


To maximise inclusion of EAL learners in the classroom, teachers can adapt teaching approaches, lesson activities, learning resources and homework to take into account the English levels of learners in the class.

Subject teachers should actively reinforce the assets of bilingualism of their students.


Here are some strategies subject teachers can use to reduce or overcome barriers to learning and help EAL learners at all stages of English proficiency make progress in curriculum subjects.



Pre-teach Key Words/Topics


To allow EAL learners greater access to lesson content teachers can provide students with keywords in their home language.


Keywords can be displayed in the classroom, taken down from the board, printed off or emailed to students.


Keywords lists can be easily created using Google Slides.




Using Google Sheets to support EAL learners



Access to pre loaded Google Sheet          




Quizlet is another great tool for pre teaching vocabulary.


Great resource for preliterate students.


Nice collaborative activity to do with Classroom or TY Buddy.



Signpost Lessons


Students feel more secure and relaxed when they know what is happening and what will happen next.


Signposting subject lessons simply means making the planned activities clear to the students.


  • Teachers decide on sequence of lesson
  • Display visuals in sequence
  • Point to visual as activity begins                 
  • Remove visual when activity ends


This makes the progression of the lesson even clearer. (Great for SEN students too)


These Visuals can be displayed in every classroom as a whole school initiative.


Download Signposting Visuals here.



Grade your Language


Typical class instructions can be a barrier to learning for EAL learners.


Classroom Instructions often include complex grammar, unnecessarily difficult words and phrases, phrasal verbs and idioms an EAL learner must get through to find the actual instructions.


Use simple, short, concise and clear sentences omitting any unnecessarily difficult words and phrases.


This is even more important to remember when giving instructions on Google Classroom.



Use Visuals


Abstract concepts can be a barrier to learning for EAL learners.


Simple highly visual images can provide considerable support.


Use concrete rather than abstract starters to allow EAL learners greater access at the beginning of the lesson.


An EAL learner may not know what a teacher is saying but with a carefully chosen visual the student will understand the context straight away.


(S)he will be able to make the fullest possible use of their prior knowledge and language skills to access the lesson content.


Ensure images/ visuals are culturally familiar to all students.


Schoolslinks have a great stock of subject displays with visuals and keywords for many subjects.





Like visuals, carefully chosen educational videos will help an EAL learner understand the context and make the fullest possible use of their prior knowledge and language skills to access the lesson content.


YouTube clips can be used to pre-teach a topic, during a lesson, to support homework or as a revision tool.




Using Youtube to support EAL learners



Encourage Home Language Use


Make room for students’ home languages as part of the learning process.


Let EAL learners make good use of their home language whenever possible.


If there are students in the class who speak the same home language, create authentic opportunities to allow them to draw on their home language to successfully collaborate and make meaningful contributions linguistically, conceptually, and academically.


Encourage classmates who speak the same home language to:


  • Clarify  or discuss key concepts
  • Summarise the important details about what they have just read, heard or learned
  • Reflect upon the task at hand and negotiate an appropriate response
  • Brainstorm (discuss, or write) ideas around a particular subject
  • Quick-write as much as they can in a short amount of time about a particular subject or topic
  • Complete a K-W-L activity


To build background, increase reading skills or clarify concepts, allow EAL learners to use their home languages to:


  • Read materials
  • Make notes .
  • Draft work
  • Research a topic
  • Read a task
  • Annotate
  • Create a product


These strategies will help the EAL learner say what they want to say without limiting themselves to the language they already know in English.


The fact that you don’t speak their language is not relevant.


What is important is that you acknowledge a student’s  home language and recognise that it is a learning tool for them.



Make room for EAL learners' home languages as part of the learning process


Bilingualism is an asset.


Strategic use of EAL learners' home language can aid English language learning particularly in understanding vocabulary, instructions and even grammar concepts.





Using translation tool in Google Docs to support EAL learners



Multilingual Resources


In addition to multilingual videos schools can source multilingual versions of texts.


Especially useful for English classes.


Multilingual texts can be sourced on the Book Depository.


If you don't have or can't get a home language version of a text, encourage EAL learners to:


  • Read about the novel/film on Wikipedia in their home language
  • Read a graded reader of the novel
  • Watch the film with captions in their home language
  • Listen to the audio book (lots on You Tube)
  • Read an annotated version of the original