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How to help teach an EAL child (5yo) letters and sounds (and numeracy too)???

(16 Posts)
Hulababy Wed 07-Oct-09 20:56:54

I work as a TA in a Y1 class.

Currently have a 5y EAL child who has difficulties with literacy and numeracy.

From what I know English is definitely a minority language at home. I don't think mum speaks English and dad's is very limited.

He knows one or two letter sounds, verbally only, such as s, a - but knows these through the Jolly Phonics songs and actions mainly.

He cannot recognise more than 1 or 2 letters when written down.

He cannot identify initial letter sounds - so doesn;t know that the initial sound in sun is ssss for example.

He cannot form his letters. He is primarily mark making. He finds copying letters (and numbers) very diffculty (been working on s/a/t since start of term, although will draw over the top of my letters.

His numeracy is around the same level. He can count objects to 4, but after that gets mixed up. Knows the words for numbers to 10 but unable to order them. Can write 1, and now 0 after a week's practise. No concet of addition/calculation as yet.

Nw, I am a trained teacher, but at secondary llevel. I have taught my own daughter letters and sounds type stuff. But am I wondering if there is something more specific I could be doing to help him.

I have about 10-15 minutes three times a week with him, but try and do more. Sometimes he works alongside another child who is at a slightly higher (not much though) level - other child not EAL.

Can anyone recommend any resources or strategies, esp regards the literacy side of things?

Hulababy Thu 08-Oct-09 13:06:18

No one?

OmicronPersei8yourbrain Thu 08-Oct-09 13:14:49

How well does he speak English?

Hulababy Thu 08-Oct-09 13:30:52

Limited. He is very very quiet at school, especially in the whole class. He talks a bit more when on own or in smaller group, but am not convinced he speaks a huge amount of English really - he copies a lot of what others will say. He responds to questions but like a toddler might.

OmicronPersei8yourbrain Thu 08-Oct-09 22:21:23

Well language acquisition in any language tends to follow the same path - words/labels, phrases, longer phrases, then actually using grammar then more fully fluent. It sounds like he is in the 1st/2nd bit.

I'd say that he needs lots of story and rhyme/repetition, with visual support too. So in Year 1 you could have puppets (just cut out figures will do) for each of the 3 little pigs, 3 houses and the wolf when telling the story.

You've asked specifically about letters and numbers though. He sounds like he's where the children were in Nursery/Reception on this front. He needs lots of games, lots of practice counting actual objects (see if the school have compare bears) - he could match 6 bears to the number 6, roll a dice and match it to the numeral or count out the correct number of bears, roll a dice and play a simple bingo game.

In fact, I think bingo games are great! You can have pictures matching letters (both ways), numbers as above too. Make some dice out of cardboard and stick photocopied pictures on them. Photocopy a load of 6-box grids to use too - or roll a dice then pick an object out.

Ask if the school has a Pips (progression in phonics) book lying around, there are some great games for learning letter sounds in there - very practical and using objects. For example you'd have a couple of objects starting with t, m, s, p, then you'd say the letter sound and he'd pick out the objects that match.

Finally, he probably needs work on his fine and gross motor skills. Mark-making can be on a large scale too - painting for example. He can try making letters out of playdough, or traced with his finger in a tray of sand.

I hope that helps - it's been a while since I've been inside a classroom but I taught Year 1 for years, and plenty of children with EAL too. In a way I'd say the whole story thing is the most important as it helps with the language acquisition and makes classroom work more accessible. What I learnt over the years was that many of these strategies were good teaching practice for all children, not just those with EAL.

Hulababy Thu 08-Oct-09 22:26:13

Thank you.

It looks like I am on the right lines. I am doing all of the things youhave suggested with him, and with my other IEP childrem too. Which is very reassuring.

So I guess I just keep going.

At present he can't count beyond 4 and only recognises 0/1 written down. So doing lots of practise, lots of games and some songs such as 5 currant buns, etc.

Similarly with letters. He isn;t there with the initial sounds yet, although will copy others. So I team him up for bingo type words.

Hopefully things will get easier for him.

OmicronPersei8yourbrain Thu 08-Oct-09 23:48:26

You sound like a great TA! I'm sure the extra support from you will make his experience of school a lot less daunting, and I hope you get the satisfaction of seeing him make lots of progress.

FernieB Fri 09-Oct-09 10:04:02

Sound like you're doing a great job. A friend of mine was a reception teacher in London and had a class with a high proportion of kids with EAL. They seemed to pick it up eventually. Some kids tried to speak English as they learnt it, but others refused to say a single word and then several months later would suddenly speak fluently.

Pitchounette Fri 09-Oct-09 11:48:38

Message withdrawn

Hulababy Fri 09-Oct-09 13:08:09

Been speaking with a communication and language worker today about him, after she spent time with him. She also works with my other little girl in the class.

A was born in England and hsi parents have been her at least tht long, not sure how long. Mum doesn't speak English. Dad talks some but it is limited. I don't think they use English at home at all.

He has been in school since January in reception, but there was no nursery provision.

He is working at a two key word level at present. His vocab is minimal and is has very few verbs.

My other little girl is at 3 key word level.

I am going to introduce a lot more rhebus symbols into the classroom for most activities and the classroom themes and topics, alongside the written word.

Will continue modelling language and give running commentary during role play type activities.

Wondering is some Makaton will bbenefit him too. It does the little girl as when she doesn;t know the word (esp verbs) she can use the action - or the rhebus symbols.

Already using a visuual timetable.

And going to do some sentence maker work, using 2 and 3 KWs (who? doing? what?)

i.e Man eating icecream

Also will do above with images of him (and the girl) - esp related to the next half term topic of senses.

eg A touching sand

Hope this will help!

Hulababy Fri 09-Oct-09 13:09:32

Oh - and apparently Ineed tofocius on the end sounds of words rathe than initial sounds hich suprised me. But when he speaks the words he does say do not have the ending (ie sna instead of snake) - so need to sort something for this. Lots of listening games.

CybilLiberty Fri 09-Oct-09 13:19:56

I do a lot of word on Sound Awareness with children with all sorts of difficulties in an infants school.

In one of the packages I use there is a picture of a train and two carriages. For the word 'CAT' for example you point to the first sound, first carriage, second sound second carriage etc. Then ask child what is first sound, second sound and get them to point to each part of the train as they say it.

Or get a length of drainpipe and when he hears a 'ssss' for example in a word he can drop a small toy down the drainpipe.

Does the SENCO at your school not have any resources/packages you could implement?

CybilLiberty Fri 09-Oct-09 13:21:48

Get lots of pictures, eg SUN,DOG, FISH, etc and ask him which picture has a 'g' sound at the end. I get the children to talk in a 'snail ' voice, very slowly to hear all the sounds in a word

Hulababy Fri 09-Oct-09 13:41:41

There are software, etc. in school. Just need to get hold of them as, like most schools, there are in demans and not always to get access too. First time I have to do things from this low starting point, so still learning where everything is.

Like the drainpipe idea; this he would like that

I can't do anything involving actual letters as such yet as he doesn't recognise them written down - but lots of verbal games sound good.

OmicronPersei8yourbrain Fri 09-Oct-09 14:26:34

Reading what Pitchounette wrote, I have remembered that for some children we'd get an assessment of early counting and literacy skills done in the child's home language sometimes. It is always interesting and relevant to consider learning and language acquisition across the board.

Also with parents I'd always stress the importance of doing things in the home language, eg reading books, playing letter sound games etc.

Hulababy Fri 09-Oct-09 14:29:28

I think he has communication issues in his home langauge also - from what I heard today in our meeting; will know more of this next week hopefully.

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