Inclusion Services

Advisory Service: English as an Additional Language

Our work in schools

Pembrokeshire Minority Ethnic Achievement Service supports schools with all aspects of English as an Additional Language (EAL) or Welsh as an Additional Language (WAL) and provides training, support and consultancy to ensure that schools support and raise the achievement of ethnic minority pupils with EAL/WAL.

The aim of the service is to develop the confidence and expertise in EAL for teaching and support staff to ensure that EAL pupils meet their targets in school.

Pembrokeshire has one co-ordinator and a team of two assistants who work on a with pupils, their families and staff in schools as well as outside agencies to monitor pupil wellbeing, ensuring that the pupil makes progress in line with potential.

The service provides quick responses to requests for assessment and support for a newly arrived pupil with EAL/WAL. Pupil wellbeing is also part of the support work carried out in schools.

The team sets language targets alongside staff in schools and works closely with schools to track pupil's progress and ensure that ethnic minority pupils identified as underperforming are supported as much as possible. MEAS staff also advise on exam concessions, home language exam preparation, social use of language, mentoring, language support or academic support, especially prior to exams.

In addition, the service provides translations of letters or information relating to school for pupils and parents and advises on and provides interpretation via WITS the Wales interpretation and Translation Service.

What is EAL/WAL?

EAL means English as an Additional Language.

WAL means Welsh as an Additional Language.

EAL/WAL pupils are pupils who speak a language other than English or Welsh as their first language.

A pupil is EAL or WAL because they were born in a different country or because their parents speak a different language at home. So, English or Welsh becomes their second (third, fourth, fifth or sixth) language. It is an additional language.

If a pupil is bilingual (speaking two languages) or multilingual (speaking many languages), this usually has a very positive effect on their performance in school.

The more languages spoken the more pathways and links there are between languages in the brain.

At Home:

At home, children or young people should be encouraged to use their home language as this is their first language, their thinking language and it is important that they continue to develop this with their family. 

At School:

Pupils who are new to English/Welsh or at the early stages of learning the language will be supported by a variety of strategies in mainstream classes.

These may include the following:

A buddy or buddies to support them socially.

Talk partners in class to help them with language and communication.

Opportunities to develop language in class through playing language games and listening to others speak in English.

Using talk frames and rehearsing language or new vocabulary taught in class.

Being pre-taught new words.

Use of dictionaries, electronic dictionaries, i-pads with translation tools to support translation and offer visual images of key vocabulary taught.

Being paired with other children who speak the same language where it is possible for work.

Dual language books and e books

Reading partners to help with reading and comprehension activities.


Most children will start to learn English by listening to the patterns of language and by copying and starting to understand instructions and greetings. They will learn everyday words and phrases such as 'hello', 'goodbye', 'thank you', 'please', 'sit down', 'stand up', 'snack', 'lunch', 'drink', 'water', 'toilet' etc.

Listening to peers and staff should develop an understanding of English in time. Pupils should develop their use of English by sitting with more able peers and this will enable them to use longer phrases and sentences over time.

Children may be given a visual timetable or communication fan to start with.

EAL/WAL pupils will learn social language first by communicating with their classmates and staff in school. Slowly they will start to understand and learn to use the academic language that they need in the classroom.

Social language:

Children learn basic social language first. This is their Basic Interpersonal Communication skills or BICS and it can take around two years to learn this. E.g. 'Good morning', 'How are you today'? 'My name is…', 'I am having sandwiches today', 'I don’t understand', 'Could you show me the way please?' 'May I go to the toilet please' etc.

Academic language:

It takes longer to learn the academic language needed in the classroom. It takes more time for EAL/WAL pupils to catch up with their mostly monolingual peers (classmates who speak one language). It can take up to seven to ten years to learn all they need to know.

This may need to be explicitly taught through the creation of key vocabulary lists or activities to help teach the topic or subject specific language required in class.

Children may create their own dictionaries so they can rehearse at home. They may need reading partners to help them understand the meaning behind the words they read in a book 

How long will it take for my child to learn English/Welsh as an additional language?

The rate at which children learn English or Welsh as a new language will vary and depends on different factors including:

  • Previous education
  • Ability to communicate in the first or home language
  • Family support
  • Cognitive ability
  • Previous literacy in first language
  • Age at the time of starting to learn the second language 

How will my child's school help?

Schools will help your child by ensuring the following:

  • That school is a safe, welcoming environment.
  • Ensuring that all pupils feel included.
  • Encouraging home languages spoken in school and at home
  • Staff speaking clearly and at a normal pace
  • Staff avoiding idioms and colloquialisms which can be confusing in a second language or in the early stages of acquisition.
  • Making learning fun, visual and multi-sensory, especially when a child is new to English
  • Reinforcing language – repeating and modelling language, spoken and written.
  • Planning collaborative learning activities, where children learn from each other, and good models of English.
  • Blended learning approaches where necessary, some online and class learning programmes.
  • By seeking advice and support if required from the Minority Ethnic Achievement Service other services in Inclusion if the child has additional learning needs (ALN) or requires an additional learning provision (ALP)

What if I have a concern about my child with EAL?WAL?

Parents and carers should speak to their child’s school initially if they have any questions about their child learning English or Welsh as an additional language (EAL/WAL).

If parents do not feel that this has resolved the concern, they may speak to the ALNCo Additional Learning Needs Coordinator.

Parents may also refer themselves or ask to be referred to Parent Partnership who will help to resolve issues between school and home. 

How does my child’s school access further support?

The school can access training, advice from the English as an Additional Language Service.

Schools and early years’ settings will mostly be familiar with how to support pupils with English as an Additional Language, but may contact the Minority Ethnic Achievement Service for advice, assessment and further support if the pupil is not making the expected progress or there are concerns.

The Minority Ethnic Achievement Service aims to help staff in early years’ settings and schools make the curriculum more accessible to pupils who have English or Welsh as an Additional Language in order to improve their outcomes and experiences. They will also advise college and sixth form settings where required for transition purposes.

For more information contact:

Annette Thomas
English as an Additional Language / Minority Ethnic Achievement Service Team Leader

2H,North Wing
County Hall
SA61 1TP
Tel: 01437 770158,



ID: 7836, revised 13/10/2021