cards activity for young learners

Many of the teaching resources on this website refer to various tried and tested approaches and strategies which we recommend for EAL learners.

In this section of the website we explain the rationale behind these methodologies and why we call them ‘Great Ideas’.

The majority of these approaches can be used with everyone in the class, but they are particularly important for EAL learners because they provide a rich context, additional support, opportunities for collaborative learning and exploratory talk, and all the important features of good practice in meeting the educational needs of EAL learners. 


Dictogloss is a type of supported dictation that integrates the four skills of language learning. It can be used in a subject learning context at all levels from 8-11 to 16-18. Dictogloss is easy for the teacher to prepare and set up and is a very effective language learning tool as it requires learners to listen, talk, collaborate, take notes, redraft and present orally. More about dictogloss

Barrier games 

Barrier games are activities where two or more learners can see different information and they have to communicate it to each other. They are a useful way of providing an opportunity for speaking and listening for a real purpose. More about barrier games

Bilingual dictionaries/translation software

The use of bilingual dictionaries and translation software can support EAL learners in using bilingual strategies to support access to the curriculum and build on their existing knowledge. More about bilingual dictionaries

Collaborative activities

Collaborative activities provide an opportunity for exploratory talk as learners work together. They are a useful way of providing an opportunity for speaking and listening for a real purpose. More about collaborative activities


Directed Activities Related to Text (DARTs) are activities which lead learners to interact with texts in a way which enhances understanding. They can be a valuable way of making the curriculum accessible to beginner EAL learners, and of checking understanding. More about DARTs

Drama and role play

The use of drama and role play creates an opportunity for the EAL learner to hear good models of English in a meaningful context. Role play demonstrates how to use language in real life with a focus on communication. More about drama and role play


Flashcards are great for memorising, revising and consolidating vocabulary and concepts, and for stimulating discussion.  More about flashcards

Graphic organisers

Graphic organisers are a key way of encouraging EAL learners to organise their ideas and develop higher-order thinking skills and language functions. More about graphic organisers

Information exchange

These are activities where two or more learners are given different information and they have to communicate it to each other in order to complete a task. They are a useful way of providing an opportunity for speaking and listening for a real purpose. More about information exchange

Introducing new vocabulary

How you introduce new vocabulary to an EAL learner requires careful consideration, to ensure that it is taught in context not in isolation. There should be a focus not only on key subject-specific vocabulary but also on the language forms and structures associated with particular curriculum areas. More about introducing new vocabulary

Jigsaw activities

Jigsaw activities are great for promoting interactive, collaborative group work, and provide an opportunity for purposeful communication with peers who can provide good language models. They encourage EAL learners to develop speaking and listening skills within the context of a curriculum topic. More about jigsaw activities

Language drills

Drilling is a way of memorising language by repeating it. It is an effective approach for learning new vocabulary or language structures. Through drilling, EAL learners internalise language and are more likely to be able to use it independently. More about language drills


Modelling appropriate language forms and structures for a particular task is very helpful to EAL learners. This often involves analysing the language demands of the task, providing a written model of the response you are expecting and pointing out key features of the language used in the model answer. More about modelling

Reading for meaning

Fluent readers use a range of strategies to decode and understand text. Many EAL learners have good literacy skills in their first language that they can build on in order to become fluent readers of English. Different teaching methods will be needed according to the learner’s level of literacy in their first language and how similar or different the written form of that language is to English. More about reading for meaning

Scaffolding learning

EAL learners need activities to be scaffolded in a range of ways through the provision of linguistic and contextual support. Scaffolding activities can include providing enhanced visual support, graphic organisers, modelling, collaborative learning, speaking and writing frames or grouping EAL learners with supportive peers who can provide good models of English. More about scaffolding learning

Speaking and writing frames

Speaking and writing frames are useful scaffolding to enable EAL learners to structure their speaking and writing, to use new language forms and functions appropriately and consistently and eventually to speak and write independently using appropriate genres. More about speaking and writing frames

Substitution tables

Substitution tables are a type of scaffolding resource which extend the speaking or writing of EAL learners. They are useful for encouraging learners to develop and extend speaking and listening skills within the context of a curriculum topic and can be used as a reinforcement of newly acquired language. More about substitution tables

Using ICT

ICT can be very powerful when used effectively with EAL learners. In particular using ICT with pairs or groups of learners engaged in language-focused collaborative tasks can promote exploratory talk as well as motivating and engaging learners. More about using ICT

Using learners' L1 ability

Using EAL learners’ first language abilities supports access to the curriculum and the acquisition of additional languages. Bilingual strategies enable EAL learners to build on their existing knowledge and make it possible to increase the cognitive challenge of work undertaken. More about using learners' first language ability


Using resources with a lot of visual content provides context and access for EAL learners who need to make sense of new information and new language in order to learn. Visuals enable the language demands of a task to be reduced without reducing the cognitive demand. More about visuals