Encouraging inclusivity by nurturing EAL pupil voice

EAL pupils have diverse experiences, stories to tell and opinions to share in many different languages. If you want to create a truly inclusive school environment, EAL pupils’ voices need to be nurtured, represented and heard. Pupil voice is particularly important for EAL pupils as too often the EAL pupil voice is only heard within the safe space of the EAL department and remains muted in the wider school community. Here are some ideas of how you can promote EAL pupil voice outside the EAL classroom:

Include EAL pupils in staff recruitment

EAL pupils may have questions for new staff that other pupils don’t. If they have low English proficiency or lack confidence, you can help them prepare and rehearse their questions beforehand. You may find that EAL pupils can be particularly intuitive as they may be less impressed by ‘fancy’ language used and rely more on non-verbal cues. It’s also a good opportunity to see how the candidate interacts with an EAL pupil – do they know how to grade their language?

Help EAL pupils to plan and deliver an assembly

Give your EAL pupils the opportunity to plan and present an assembly on language diversity. Use this resource to help your pupils prepare, find a date in the school calendar and watch your colleagues sob with pride at the back of the hall! Encourage your lower proficiency pupils to get involved in the preparation and presentation. If they lack the confidence to speak in front of the school they could control the PowerPoint or make and hand out cards with useful phrases in different languages. You could follow up with this language diversity activity using the FlashAcademy® object translator.

Nominate EAL pupils to guide tours for school visitors

Pair a more confident EAL pupil with a shyer one and prep them on how to guide visitors around the school. Even if a low proficiency pupil isn’t able to say much, this lets them take ownership of their school environment and shows them (and visitors) that the EAL pupil voice is nurtured and encouraged.

Support EAL pupils to access roles of responsibility

EAL pupils may need a push to put themselves forward for school council or house captain positions. Make sure they know that their views are as valid as other pupils’ and that their EAL experience gives them valuable leadership qualities such as active listening skills, the ability to adapt to change and resilience.

Get the EAL pupil voice published

There is no reason why EAL pupils should not enter (and win) creative writing competitions. Writing a competition entry is a great way to teach your pupils the value of the drafting process as they edit their piece according to your feedback. Competitions like Mother Tongue, Other Tongue give EAL pupils the opportunity to write a poem in their home language, and challenge non-EAL pupils to write a poem in a language they are learning. If creative writing isn’t your pupils’ thing, why not encourage a collaborative EAL pupil blog? An added bonus is that if you set your pupils the task of responding to each other’s posts for homework they’re participating in peer feedback without realising.

EAL pupil voice in the school play

It might take your EAL pupils longer to learn their lines or to perfect their pronunciation, but ambition is ambition and if an EAL pupil has a talent or a desire to shine on the stage then they will put in the work required. Language proficiency should be no barrier to pupils’ participation in school plays. The learning experience of working in a team to put on a performance is invaluable and will give EAL pupils a new type of language input – not to mention the visual nature of acting will help bring the English language to life. You probably already use drama activities liberally in your EAL classroom, but if you need some new ideas you can try this resource or have a look here.

If you have any stories of when you’ve witnessed the EAL pupil voice in action in your school community, or if you do anything to encourage the EAL pupil voice to be used and listened to (either in English or other languages), share your experiences on the EAL Success Facebook page.

Helen Shelton

Helen is our content assistant, who has taught EAL and EFL in the UK and Romania. She enjoys collecting foreign language books that she'll get around to reading one day, and is also a qualified Zumba instructor who loves boxing and doing nail art in her free time.

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