Supporting EAL students who arrive ‘late’ – specifically in year 5 or in year 6 – is a common but particular challenge for primary schools. Kamil Trzebiatowski offers his advice, resources and ideas


A Thai speaker who is new to English arrives in May into year 5, leaving her only about a year before she is faced with taking her SATs. Little time remains to develop English language proficiency and learn the academic content, some of which her school in Thailand had not covered. How can schools support such learners?

For learners who use English as an additional language (EAL), the major factor influencing their educational achievement and attainment is their proficiency in English (PiE).

Research shows that it takes more than six years on average for multilingual learners to progress from being new to English to becoming a fluent user of the English language (Strand & Lindorff, 2020) and that arrival within the English state school system systematically predicts attainment levels for children with EAL, with a severe attainment penalty for children arriving closest to the time of the exams (Hutchinson, 2018).

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