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Language development, social integration and achievement of recently-arrived EAL children in schools in the East of England

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Research into the socialisation of migrant-background children in new educational contexts has pointed to a complex relationship between language, identity and social integration. In England where over a million schoolchildren between the ages of 5 and 16 reportedly speak a language other than English as a first language, the social and educational consequences are increasingly felt by schools and families alike. However, little focused research has been carried out on school experiences during the transitional period following arrival. What are the perceptions and practices that shape the experience of newly-arrived migrant children in schools and what role does language (whether first, second or foreign) play in the pupils’ social and academic development? In the context of a vacuum of central policy guidance on EAL (English as an Additional Language) provision, what are teachers’ emergent understandings of this issue?

The session will consist of short presentations from different members of the team and will focus on a summary of latest findings and a discussion of the themes of language and identity, and of communication and inclusion.

The EALead research team (a collaboration between the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University) has been engaged in a research programme, funded by the Bell Foundation, which has consisted of two case study research projects (one completed and one ongoing) which investigate provision of school support, assessment, language development and social integration of recently-arrived EAL students in schools in the East of England. Our presentation will outline key themes emerging from the qualitative data collected at four schools in the region as well as the results of a regional school survey.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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