English as an additional language

Mena, a girl aged 8 years 2 months, and Rajid, a boy aged 9 years 1 month, are both students for whom English is an additional language. Despite several years in school, neither had acquired a particularly good standard of spoken English and their literacy skills were poor. The teachers are divided regarding the likely cause of their problems. Some believe that their difficulties were those of the typical child for whom English is an additional language, and that a greater amount of language stimulation was needed. Other teachers wondered whether Mena and Rajid were perhaps not as bright as they had first imagined, and that consequently educational expectations were being set too high. Finally, some thought that there might be more serious underlying problems that were impeding these students’ progress. To help understand these cases, LASS 8–11 was administered to both students and the results are shown in Figures 35a and 35b, and Figures 36a and 36b.


Figure 35a. Mena – a girl with limited English

Figure 35b. Mena – a girl with limited English

Figure 36a. Rajid – a boy with limited English

Figure 36a. Rajid – a boy with limited English

Of the two, Mena is clearly the brighter (at least as far as non-verbal reasoning is concerned) and in neither case could low ability be taken to be the cause of their problems. For both students, their Verbal reasoning score is lower than their Non-verbal reasoning score, which would appear to be due to their limited use of English. But they differ markedly in their diagnostic test results. Mena has good memory skills while Rajid has poor memory skills – in fact, his profile is that of dyslexia. Mena, on the other hand, appears to be making some progress in reading and spelling, suggesting that the teaching methods that had been adopted were working, albeit rather more slowly that her teachers would have expected. Both of these pupils require continuing support in English, but Rajid needs a more highly structured multisensory programme directed at his dyslexic difficulties (see Teaching Recommendations), together with daily practice using a program such as Wordshark5. Mena, on the other hand, should be able to cope with ordinary classroom literacy activities supplemented by some additional practice to help her increase her fluency.