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Reading with EAL Learners

Written by Lizzie Cain, 1st February 2013

By Bev Laroc, TRO Project Worker

The Reader Organisation have been working in partnership with Liverpool City Council EMTAS department (The Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service)  for a number of years. For two hours every week the young learners attend a Get Into Reading session at Toxteth Library, Liverpool, with a number of project workers, a member of council staff and volunteers reading on a one to one basis. This has proved very beneficial to the learners, staff and volunteers. It has shown me how much we take language for granted and how using the Get Into Reading model assists learning and appreciation of the books that we read together.

Glynis Jackson from Liverpool City Council has recently conducted a report: ‘Evaluating the learning preferences of EAL (English as Additional Language) learners’ which shows what an impact these Get Into Reading sessions have on the young people. She states in her report that:

"Conversations about the stories/text have shown Student 4 to become animated in discussing the plot, characters and main events. The generic questions about the stories have prepared her for the next story and what kind of things the reader should expect to meet in the story. Her rapid progression in her reading skills has spilled into developing her writing skills. In addition, Student 4 has blossomed socially, becoming a confident and popular member of the group. Her overall confidence and ‘joie de vie’ is apparent to all her tutors."

What more can be said about the effects that Get Into Reading can have on a young person! Not only has this student’s reading and writing improved, but so has her confidence and social skills. Glynis goes on to state in her report that:

"The reading intervention sessions have had a dramatic effect on both Student 2’s focus and punctuality. This learner has arrived for every intervention session on time! She has developed a positive relationship with her volunteer support reader, and becomes totally absorbed in the reading process. Her mispronunciation of words does not seem to faze her in the least, in fact, she laughs about it as though it’s all part of the fun. This means that Student 2 is likely to develop her English language skills due to her lack of self-consciousness; that is, she is not afraid to take risks with the language."

The extract below shows how the Get Into Reading model of reading and discussion has helped another student:

"Student 7 chose reading books for herself that were the appropriate level and topic area. Allowing this student the freedom to do so, gave her the responsibility of choosing a story that would engage her. The responsibility for her own learning material changed Student 7’s attitude to reading. An additional strategy included the volunteer encouraging the development of discussions around the subject, as well as stopping and checking comprehension."

Below are some examples of the young reader’s responses to the last evaluation:


What have you most enjoyed about your learning programme so far?     MRL_5280
I enjoy reading the most with a helper.

In which way do you think you learn English best?
Reading in the library with a helper


What have you enjoyed most about your learning programme so far?
I have enjoyed the reading class the most because I couldn't read when I started but now I can read.

In which way to do you think you learn English best?
I learn best being in the library with my teacher.


As these small extracts show the impact of one-to-one Get Into Reading on young learners is a great one. Long may the important relationship between The Reader Organisation and the EMTAS department continue and grow.

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