The Role of Peer Support in Teaching English as an Additional Language Pupils

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There has been an increasing number of children from a diverse racial background getting into education with inadequate knowledge of the English language in various parts of the developed nations, particularly the UK (Withey 2012, p. 74). Given that English remains to be the only dialect used for both education and assessment sectors in the UK, it has raised various questions touching on the achievement and accomplishment of children (Withey 2012, p. 74). As a result, training of pupils who use English as an additional language is essential to the economy since communication of information and ideas depends on a practical and thoughtful pedagogy. The foundation of the teaching and learning of EAL children should be a reflection of the pupil’s vantage point. Various teachers have noted that EAL learners, particularly new arrivals often struggle to fit in, particularly in the English-speaking countries. However, it is the responsibility of the institution to ensure that those students learn English through the curriculum (Murray 2010, p. 02).

A well-developed EAL teaching approach aims at training of children to acknowledge and understand English by employing the conventional syllabus as the background. The process entails evolving particular teaching approaches and resources aiming to make the dialect of the curriculum available through modelling, scaffolding, and improved use of pictures whereas maintaining the interest and cognitive encounters high level.

“The best teaching happens in teams. That’s because team teaching enables teachers to bring different knowledge and perspectives to bear on topics and to model intellectual inquiry by asking questions, seeking to understand differences, and disagreeing respectfully” (Brookfield 2017, p. 1). As a result, the best place for an EAL pupil education process is to learn in the classroom alongside their peers. School community should apply different choices of learning methods for each EAL pupil because every child is in a different stage of learning. One of the ultimate aspects that teachers should consider for effective teaching of EAL pupils is the need to empower and develop the competence of their learners in their first language as well as training of English. Consequently, the paper will focus on the efficient teaching practice of EAL children between 7 and 11 years by addressing the best methods of teaching these pupils to enhance their capacity to speak in English. The literature review will entirely describe the support that should take place with children whose English is an Additional Language (EAL), and the best systems to employ in teaching them. In the process, provide examples regarding this topic based on the experience of the teacher.

In regards to the topic, the article will consider some of the vital points from Brookfield Theory of Reflection. Brookfield reflective model, commonly entitled the “four pair of lenses”, meaning four different viewpoints in consideration to the phenomenon, will build on the investigator’s perspective, pupil point of view, workmates and research. In the researcher’s opinion, reflection on the topic will support them to engage and evaluate the attention and values of teaching systems for EAL pupils. When a teacher considers the state from student’s point of view, it is apparent that they can interpret the action of teaching in a totally different path to enhance understanding. Children often feel isolated and confused owing to language barrier phenomenon and waiting for the best teaching methods to be provided towards their learning, so they could fit in and socialise with their peers.  

Literature Review

Arnot et al. (2014, p. 47) noted that a large number of EAL children in the UK posed a great challenge for schools in the recent years owing to their inability to understand English influenced by their home language. However, their teachers have demonstrated a positive outlook towards the EAL students and put more efforts to assist them in learning English as well as assimilating into the community. The authors discussed the peer support as the most appropriate approach of teaching students that acquire English as an additional language. Classrooms and schools that embrace peer support built an atmosphere that benefits the students to grasp the knowledge of the English language curriculum have demonstrated satisfactory outcome within a short period. Inclusive classrooms have promoted respectful and supportive associations by averting the bullying epidemic built on racial backgrounds in a learning environment. The authors found that the technique allowed tutors and students with different capabilities in the English language to associate in a way that encourage understanding of the syllabus. I agree with the approach because I have tried it and it yielded positive outcomes to both EAL children, peers as well as teaching staffs. For instance, I often designate some senior EAL students as “young interpreters” to actively empower the newly arriving EAL pupils. Additionally, I paired up children who tend to speak a similar language so as to sustain each other during the lessons (Arnot et al. 2014, p. 49). The strategy often encouraged the learning between students who are in the sane setting besides building attributes of positive peer-to-peer interactions, which is good for the social development of the EAL pupils. The method can work effectively in my classroom setting enabling them to understand the language quickly.

Drummond (2014, p. 1) noted that teachers and school heads across the UK supported EAL learners in several ways. Some learning institutions have invested in getting the assistance of experts and specialists on how to handle the EAL students. However, some schools lack the services of the EAL specialists leading to varying outcomes in schools across the UK. The author discovered that the application of some principles and techniques could help EAL children to understand English quickly. These approaches include;

i. The use of more visuals such as photographs and pictures helping learners to make sense of new knowledge

ii. Using photographic organisers such as grids or table to support learners in organising their thoughts

iii. Developing interactive and collaborative learning as well as teaching activities

iv. Supporting the development of language through primary structures and phrases rather than key words

v. Applying role and drama playing to ensure the process is memorable and inspire understanding with minimal efforts.

I agree with the strategy because I have used in the past and proved effective in sustaining the learning environment of the EAL students during the course. Besides, it assists teachers to adjust their lessons to meet the needs of their respective learners. For instance, I have developed a number of photographs plotted on the walls of the classroom, which have been sufficient in helping students grasp new information. I have also integrated drama and role-playing in my EAL classes, which has borne positive fruits as they tend to memorise the English language both outside and inside the classroom.

            Walker (2014, p. 5) illustrated that parental participation is one of the strategies that could assist EAL students to understand the English language in a short period. Harnessing the power parental involvement from minority communities can support EAL children to understand English dialect both outside and within a classroom setting. The author wanted to ascertain socio-cultural teaching and learning behaviors connected to the previous acculturation of parents in an education system found outside the UK. Walker (2014, p. 23) concluded that parental engagement in the education of their children has a positive influence on their language development. However, I disagree with the approach since it allows the parents to provide more assistance to their children in realising their potential. As a result, the students mostly rely on the backup of their parents who are also affected by their vernacular or home language in completing their homework. Moreover, it does not empower pupils to develop confidence and self-esteem thus reducing their well-being and resilience during learning leading to a protracted period of attaining greater aspiration and academic accomplishments. For instance, I have attempted the approach, by including parents and guardians in the academic progress of their students and the outcome was minimal because most of them have been affected by the first language. Communicating ideas is also a problem further influencing negatively on the development and learning of English among their children.

            Leung and Creese (2010, p. 15) advocated for an approach focusing on the structure of the language and aiming at speedy integration to make EAL pupils become “invisible.” The strategy allows the child to become a fully assimilated member of the school community by taking part in regular classes as soon as possible and sharing the customary syllabus. Achieving the goals of the approach requires both the teachers and schools to have the capability to recognise the bilingualism (multilingualism) of their students as a positive aspect of their intellectual growth and progress. Therefore, they should create opportunities for the students by enabling them to use their first language to support their development and learning of English. I agree with the method proposed by Leung and Creese because it makes the pupils become part of the "normal lessons" and improve their learning atmosphere in a bid to prevent marginalisation and exclusion. I have tried the method and it was effective by making their bilingualism “visible.” However, I focused on using it as a device to enrich the shift to English and allow them to have access to ‘regular lessons.’

            Conteh (2015, p. 35) advocated for the use of a functional approach to teaching EAL children in a classroom setting. The author claims that there is a need for educators and instructors to understand the operational concept of the English language in a bid to support the development of the dialect among the minority children in the UK. Teachers need to appreciate grammar as a means of labelling the language rather than sets of directions for tutors and learners to follow. The functional method provides educators with a more effective way to perceive grammar for learning purposes. Moreover, it enables linguists to acknowledge ways in which one uses language to construct complete texts in their various context of the application rather than considering language without background. The primary element of the technique is the notion of repertoire, a concept that focuses on the choices that people make intuitively in using language. I agree with the approach because I have tried it and it was effective in educating EAL children by emphasizing on the 5Ws (what, who, when, where, and why). The method has also aided students to reflect on how they ought to write and request what they desire in the most right attitude when in an EAL classroom setting. Additionally, it has empowered students to use grammar to analyse their language choices in the best way as well as allowing them to be critical thinkers on matters touching on English.

            Washbourne and Hailstone (2011, p. 27) asserted that creating a compassionate atmosphere in a classroom environment is the best approach to enhance the learning and development of English among the EAL students. Building “class buddies” in a learning environment assist the children to feel welcome during their first sessions in schools. A supportive setting can promote positive associations between students from diverse cultural and social background. A teacher can focus on three major models of “class buddies”, which encompasses;

i. Buddy speaking the same language as the EAL child. The model empowers the teachers as well as other children to understand the EAL pupil as well as understanding more in the class.

ii. Partner speaking English only. The model improves the understanding of various cultures as well as supporting the learner to appreciate English.

iii. A group of partners: Allows the dissemination of duties even if any of the buddies is absent.

iv. A rotational group of friends: The model enables everyone to get an opportunity to become a buddy to the new arrival as well as knowing more colleagues.

I agree with the method because I have applied it in my class and it proved effective in understanding the culture as well as the first language of the new student. Moreover, it provided the peer with a chance to appreciate the cultural diversity in the UK. The approach tends to enrich learning through one another and creating a supportive and friendly atmosphere for new arrivals without feeling left out or secluded.

Liu and Evans (2016, p. 558) assert that helping EAL students as well as teachers to develop a positive attitude towards a language can considerably enhance their capability in understanding English. The affirmative attitude expressed by the children in learning English as an additional language is attributable to benefits obtained from appreciating it such as making friends, thinking fast, and the need to know the dialect. The authors also noted that the English language encouraged pupils to gain more confidence because it is a “natural” thing to do. Given that the dialect makes them feel important in school, it supports them to develop a sense of pride as they attain what their peers who speak English can achieve. The positive outlook of teachers towards teaching English to the EAL students can either portray a good picture to motivate them to aspire to know the language or demoralise them for the worst. I agree with the method because I have tried it and it has yielded positive outcomes in the classroom setting. For instance, I have encouraged “free use of language” among these children because I believe their first language can positively contribute to establishing an inclusive atmosphere for training and education. In the process, it has empowered me to develop mindedness of international students such as encouraging cultural openness within the school compound.


The understanding and learning of English language among pupils and students with EAL in the UK are predictive of simultaneous academic achievement and emotional, social as well as behavioural functioning. These aspects play a considerable role in the ability of a child to grasp the new information on the English language. As a result, several studies have focused on how different factors influence negatively the participation of EAL children in their learning processes. A number of tutors and educators in the primary as well as nursery schools have noted that EAL learners, especially the new arrivals frequently struggle to fit in the education system of the UK. The aspect has been apparent among them owing to the different learning environment accompanied by an additional language. However, some methods exist that could support teachers to help these children, pupils, and students to quickly learn English with the native speakers in the same classroom.

Peer support allows EAL learners to quickly grasp concepts and grammar through the assistance of their fellow students with the classroom setting. The method assists the educators to understand the EAL children through the eyes of their peers within and outside a classroom setting. The participation of EAL student’s parent in the development of their children proves to be ineffective because most of them are affected by the home language. As a result, they cannot communicate effectively and assist them to complete their English homework or assignments. However, the use of simple strategies such as visual aids like photographs has remained effective in supporting the learning process among EAL children and students in the UK. Functional approach on English language could empower both teachers and students to understand the significance of grammar hence developing an attitude and an atmosphere that encourage the learning practice.



Arnot, M., Schneider, C., Evans, M. et al., 2014. School approaches to the education of EAL students. Report. Retrieved on October 25, 2018 from

Brookfield, S. D., 2017. Becoming a critically reflective teacher. Second edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Conteh, J., 2015. The EAL Teaching book: Promoting success for multilingual learners. Learning Matters. 2nd Edition. ISBN 1473957524, 9781473957527

Drummond, C., 2014. How can UK schools support young children learning English? Retrieved on October 25, 2018 from

Leung, C. and Creese., 2010. English as an Additional Language: Approaches to Teaching Linguistic Minority Students. London, Sage Publications.

Liu, Y. and Evans, M., 2016. Multilingualism as legitimate shared repertoires in school communities of practice: students’ and teachers’ discursive constructions of languages in two schools in England. Cambridge Journal of Education, 46(4), 553–568.

Murray, F., 2010. English-Additional-Language Students in the Middle Years of School: Students in a Muddle? Literacy Learning: the Middle Years, 18(2), 1-13.

Walker, P., 2014. Engaging the parents of EAL learners in positive support for their children’s language development. CASS School of Education and Communities University of East London. Retrieved on October 25, 2018 from 

Washbourne, A. and Hailstone, P., 2011. EAL pocketbook. Alresford, Teachers' Pocketbooks.

Withey, L., 2012. The Teaching and Learning of English as an Additional Language in Primary School. Contemporary Issues in childhood, vol. 13, no. 1.

August 14, 2023



Language Learning

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