Eal Learners In Secondary School Context English Language Essay

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Teaching in London is probably one of the most thrilling but also challenging experiences for any teacher. London is among the most multilingual cities in the world, with over 300 community languages (Baker and Eversley 2001) , the highest concentration of ethnic minority groups in the whole Europe with 90 resident communities from all over the globe and 1 million speakers of languages other than English at home (Labour Force Survey 2003).

The above statistics are representative of 32 boroughs in the capital. The population of Newham alone for example consists of 71% of minority ethnic communities with 110 languages spoken. TRDCS, one of the comprehensive secondary school in Newham, has 65% of minority ethnic population and a rapidly growing community of EAL students, which rose from 35% to 48% just over the past four years.

The school has students with a wide range of needs starting with the big cohort of underperforming White British Students, through refugee students, pupils with little or no literacy to EAL learners at different stages of English language acquisition (from complete beginner to advanced bilingual). Some are gifted or talented; others have learning difficulties and/or disabilities. (Ofsted 2010)

The need of language seems to be the most immediate as it is central to any communication in the classroom and critical for any learning experience. If it is addressed, it can benefit all pupils regardless of needs or abilities. It has been suggested that explicit instructions and scaffolding language for academic purposes can have a positive impact on all students, bilingual and monolingual alike.

Learning vocabulary in another language seems to be empirical challenge to many EAL students in secondary school in London. Teachers find themselves in crucial situation having to differentiate their lessons to induce higher results of the learners. How do these learners can learn vocabulary efficiently? Which vocabulary does EAL need to learn to be able to communicate effectively? In this assignment I will explore what means by knowing a word to EAL in secondary school. What the last theories bring to help improve education in this field; what are the concerns when we teach a new word and which suggestions and innovation have worked in my teaching strategies from the past years.

What is a word?

Knowing a word is a multifaceted concept. For new learners of other language, depend upon the learner background, first language acquisition and what provision has been offered to facilitate the process of learning. Definitely will demand different strategies to develop, monitor accurately and progress Eal learners interact within new vocabulary. However the amount of word and how has been learnt would help to narrow the teaching necessities when you are planning the lesson. Different learner's abilities should be considered linked with technology and assessment for learning.

It is impossible to start without elucidate the meaning of the term 'word'. In 1926 the American linguist Leonard Bloomfield, says 'a minimum free form is a word'. He meant that 'the word is the smallest meaningful linguistic unit that can be used on its own'. As an example he mentions the words child and childish, whereas childish can be analyzed into child- and -ish. Child has a meaning when used on its own but -ish has not got any meaning on its own. 'Morpheme is used to refer to the smallest unit that has meaning or serves a grammatical function in a language. They are the atoms with which words are built.'

There are many different levels to know about any particular word and there are many degrees of knowing. The first aspect to consider is the 'learning burden' of a word, which means the amount of difficult or effort requested to learn it. Each word has a different learning burden for learners with different language and schooling backgrounds. Each of the features of what it means to know a word can contribute to its learning burden as an example we can say that if the learner recognize the word complete the can apply the knowledge when necessary and understand the structure of the word nevertheless unconsciously.

Nation (1990) underlines two ways of validate the knowledge knowing a word. These terms apply to a variety of kinds of language knowledge and use. Receptive receives language input from others through listening or reading and try to comprehend it. Productive produces language forms by speaking and writing to convey messages to others. Meara (1990a) called the terms receptive and productive as 'active and passive'. Defending the point of active vocabulary can be activated by others words. Passive vocabulary consists of items which can only be activated by external stimuli.

From the point of view of receptive and productive knowledge and use, knowing a word involves:

Spoken form:

Knowing words means recognize when you hear it and reproduce the spoken form in order to express a meaning. Also the stress appropriated and pronunciation of the syllables of the word. Portuguese speakers have a great difficult to say words such as although and through regarding the th and thr sounds are not part of phonetic knowledge. And the learners cannot associate these words forms with the previous L1 forms.

Written form The written way to represent the word and how to spell it show the familiarity that every learner has with theory. Learners can represent the spoken forms of words in their memory in variety of ways: as whole words, as onsets, and rimes, as letter names and as a phoneme.

The irregularity of English spelling system creates difficulty for learners of English as a first language


Word parts:

The study of word-formation and word-structure is called Morphology. The morphology describes in general all the word-structure used in all languages in the world. According to Katamba, in other to use language, speakers need to have two types of morphological knowledge. First, they need to be able to analyze existing words (knowing that frogs contains frog plus -s for plural).Second, they need to be able to work out the meanings of new words constructed using the word-building elements and standard word-construction rules of the language.

Nation (1990) says that knowing a word involves the learning burden knowledge. If the learner knows the affixes and stems in his own language will facilitate the assimilation of the new word. Also he mention the importance of teaching a word using terms as family members what can definitely result in a success learning strategies.

Exemplifying if the learner recognizes the words such as make (making, made) as a member of the same word family the teacher can clarify the grammatical structure with examples.

Connecting form and meaning:

The connection between meaning and sound and written forms will determine how quickly the learner can restore the word form when wishing to express the meaning. When they are able to recognize words such as Malware (malicious+ software) Spanglish (Spanish+ English) Freeware (free+ software) relating to first language the learning burden will be facilitate applying when the opportunity appears. When explain to the learners what normally happens with an evolution of the language adapting by speakers day-by-day.

Concept and referents:

The characteristic of words is especially striking when they looked up in type a dictionary which brings a range of different meanings. When you look at the range of meanings which may be included for a single word, we notice that some are quite different from each other. For example the words ï‚· type (to write via keyboard) and type (a sort) and train (a loco and trucks) and train (to teach) both examples share the same form besides distinctive meanings. Always when we use bilingual dictionary in classroom one of the common question is which meaning should I use or I don't know what means? I always referred to that situation mentioning English has less words and more meaning however in Latin language such as Portuguese, Italian and Spanish we find the opposite situation many others to one concept or meaning.

Nagy (1997) introduced two ways of dealing with related meanings:

Sense selection: the user select the appropriate sense of the word from the stored in the brain.

Reference specification: The learner has to find out during the comprehension process what particular real world items the word is referring to.

When working with meanings and association it is important to notice that items do not interfere with each other through the wrong links being made.


It is a theory brought by Miller and Fellbaum(1991)believing when the learner is capable to understand synonymy, but nouns, adjectives and verbs in semantic relation they will have more accuracy in using it. Question such as: which other words come up our mind? Is it any word you could use to substitute? Teachers are suggested to apply during the process of association a word.

The relationship between items in a hierarchy is called hyponymy and three additiona kinds of information are needed to distinguish between nouns: parts, attributes and functions. Exemplifying house is a hyponym of building and it has certain parts (bedroom and kitchen) and certain function (for people to live in). The whole-part relationship (house-kitchen) is called meronymy (kitchen is a meronymy of the holonym house).

Grammatical functions

The grammatical learning burden of items depends on parallels between the second language and the first language, and the parallels in grammatical behavior between words of related meaning. If L2 words have the same grammatical patterns as in the L1, then the learning burden will be light because of the L1 will act as a guide modeling the sentences.

English: Mary likes him.

Portuguese: Maria gosta dele.

Spanish: A Maria le gusta el.


The definition of collocation is a term used to refer a group of word that belong together like fast food, by the way or take a chance. When no-native speakers use collocation such as speed food can be considered low level of English. Nation (2001) arguments that the units of language knowledge and the way they fit together applies at all levels of language. N.Ellis (2001) called collocation of one level of chunking words, it happens in both spoken and written forms.

Constraints on use

Many words are not restricted in their use regarding sociolinguistic factors. Where, when and how often can we use and meet this words? The clue can be on the way he word is used. There are several areas where some words are constraint to use. And if the learners are not aware of these rules can result in inappropriate use.

We have many situations where Eal learner copy same expression from native speaker what result in bad vocabulary. Much time non-native speaker has de intuition that the word represents something not acceptable for society. As an example I have some students have learnt expression and apply in the wrong situation such as the word move instead of excuse, teacher when I am writing in whiteboard.

Item knowledge and system knowledge

Knowing a word it means the knowledge of the system which the word is part of and which lies behind vocabulary of each word. There is no doubt that attention to form and rules must be supported and prepared for by experience with the items in use. In some cases this may involve memorization of units that will later be analyzed and in other cases may involve learning a rule or pattern that is then subsequently practiced and used.

Ways of helping learners

Strategies and techniques applied in classroom

A range of strategies have been used to achieve improvement and development into Eal learners. In this part of this assignment, I intend to provide and discuss strategies and outcome from my teaching experience during these years of experience. The topics that I have chosen are:

Spoken form

Depending on the background of the student have a good result. The goal of get the learners being able to recognize a word when they hear it, and to be able to pronounce a word correctly. What makes some words phonologically more difficult than others is very much determined by learner's L1 system. The L1 system may be responsible for the learner's inability to discriminate between some phonemes and subsequent confusion of words differing precisely in these problematic phonemes.

Common difficulties in Portuguese speaker are the stress on the right syllable to produce a correct pronunciation of the word .Learner of languages with fixed stress such as penultimate being majority in Portuguese.( e.g Also the use of the preposition for instead of to

Brazilian Portuguese is a syllable-timed language, in contrast to English. This can result in learners having serious difficulty reproducing the appropriate intonation patterns of spoken English. This is less of a problem for EP speakers, whose Portuguese variety is stress-timed like English. Portuguese contains about 9 vowel sounds (plus 6 dipthongs) and 19 consonant sounds. This is fewer than English, and there are fewer consonant clusters. These differences can result in the following pronunciation issues:

failure to distinguish minimal pairs such as rich/reach, pack/puck or head/had

inaudibility of unstressed vowels at the end of a word, e.g., part (for party)

problems with dipthongs such as in hear/hair

the inclusion of vowel sounds before, between or following consonants, e.g.,estrap (for strap) or monthes (for months)

nasalization of the final /m/ or /n/, so ran, for example, becomes rang

the expected problems with words such as then, think or breathe

failure to discriminate between words such as pig/big or gale/kale

substitution of ear for hear or high for I.

These are only some of the pronunciation issues, but they give a good idea of the serious difficulties facing ESL students who want to sound like English native speakers. And they explain why even some very proficient Portuguese speakers of English never lose their accent.

Meaning (form and meaning)

Pictures/imagery: As part of methodology in Eal we prepare the lesson using a lot of visual stimulus helping learners to associate word to imagery. Normally it works better than give definitions. Pictures has the response automatically because brings L1 to associate the meaning of the word.

Because of shared Latin roots there are many English/Portuguese cognates, which can facilitate the acquisition of a strong academic vocabulary. (There is less overlap in everyday vocabulary of the two languages.) A corollary of cognates, of course, is the presence of false friends. Here are just a few of the many that wait to trap the Portuguese learner of English: parents <> parentes (=relatives) / familiar <> familiar (=respectable) / local <> local (= place).

Determination strategies: (Meaning)

If the leaner do not understand the meaning of the word, the teacher guide them to find out through guessing the meaning from their structural knowledge of the language, guessing from L1 cognate, guessing from context, using reference materials, or asking someone else.

Reading a text the teacher ask for the word

Written form

Having 46 different languages in the school which I am EAL teacher and being the majority of 76% of EAL students. It is not difficult to reveal many issues which we deal every day. According to Nation (2001) "Words are not isolated units of language, but fit into many interlocking systems and levels. Because of this, there are many things to know about any particular word and there are many degrees of knowing."