How to engage EAL children

Children reading 'The Arrival' by Shaun Tan

 'One boy, who had no English when he started at Claremont at the beginning of Year 5, read his story to his parents in their language and then in English. He was immensely proud of his work, especially because he had been able to write a whole story by following the existing structure of The Wolves in the Walls and introducing his own details.' Teacher

Writing using books as inspiration is a great way to engage children with English as an additional language by using the book as a model for their own writing.


Claremont Primary School read Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's fabulously illustrated and spooky The Wolves in the Walls closely with pupils, enabling them to learn the rhythms and patterns of its language and description, then asked them to retell it in writing.


Teachers gave pupils the choice of a straight retelling or changing the events of the story. EAL pupils found that retelling the story and illustrating it gave them a sense of ownership of the story and a mastery of the language in it they were very proud of.


Swaythling Primary School used Shaun Tan's modern classic picture book The Arrival to explore discussions of belonging and alienation. In terms of writing, the format of the book as having no dialogue lent itself to children writing their interpretation of the story, and encouraged children with other languages to tell their stories of moving to the UK.