IF your child uses English as an additional language, you might be worried about them not being at school just now and missing out on using and learning English.

But there are lots of things you can do at home to support your children.

While these ideas will be very useful for EAL learners, they can be used by anyone.

The most important thing is to recognise that all the languages used in your family are important.

You can do these activities in any language.

For parents who are learning English themselves, don’t worry about your English not being “good” enough for you to help your child’s learning.

You can discuss ideas, feelings, thoughts and anything else in your first language.

Helping your child to maintain and develop their first language will make it easier for them to develop their English.

As an added advantage, you can learn English together.

Here are some useful suggestions for things to do

with your child:

READ stories together and talk about them. You can read a story in English and talk about it in your own language or the other way around. Talk about what happens in the story, what parts of the story you like or don’t like, what you think will happen next, and how the story makes you feel. Try to teach each other English words you don’t know.

Watch English TV programmes together. There are lots of new educational programmes on TV at the moment, but any programme that you like watching will do. Watch together and talk about what you see.

With younger children you

can try imaginative play.

Why not get them to create a café in a corner of the living

room? You don’t need any

special equipment – just use everyday items you have in the house.

Your children can practise their writing and number skills by making menus, taking orders and adding up the bill.

Older children and teenagers can keep a diary of what they do and how they feel. They could write this or, if they have access to a phone or have one of the Glasgow City Council iPads, they could record it in audio or film.

This can be done in any language. When everyone is

back at school, this kind of diary can be really helpful when young people need to do presentations or talks for SQA assessments.

This is also a great opportunity to help children develop their first language. You could help your children to increase their vocabulary or develop their reading and writing skills in their first language. You will be able to do this better than most teachers.

Aleksandra Hempler is an EAL teacher in Glasgow’s EAL service who works in secondary schools.

She told the Glastow Times about some of the activities she has been doing at home with her children, aged two and five.

Aleksandra said: “We are a bilingual family, we speak Polish and German at home.

“My little ones are quite confident in using English but we thought this was a really good opportunity to embrace our home language.

“Our first activity was a poster. Probably like most of you we don’t have any arts and crafts resources, we had to improvise with loads of old newspapers, magazines, wrapping paper. Luckily we had glue.

“Try to make those activities as language rich as possible. Ask them questions about colours, shapes, ask them to describe things or retell the process involved in making your fun arts and crafts.

“For a game, we tried to find objects that match the colours of bowls. Sometimes one activity leads into another.

“We just decided to look into colours and guess what things are green. And there’s always time for a song – we sing a Polish cucumber song. Try to make everything fun, even tidying up.”

You can watch a short film of Aleksandra and her children at http://www.gdss.glasgow.sch.uk/PlainText/PlainText.aspx?



You will find lots of other ideas for activities you can do with your child there.

They all involve using language, and you can use English or your home language or a mixture of both while you do them. And most important of all, have fun!

Here are some more suggestions:

lSing nursery rhymes in your own language and in English.

lFind me games – look for objects starting with certain sounds.

lFind letters or common words from newspapers/magazines.

lTake a note of any new words from the news reports, look up their definitions and add to your new vocabulary list.

lMake words and sentences by cutting up from newspapers and magazines and stick down onto paper or rearrange onto the floor.

lWrite a fictional/non fictional piece of writing using the cut up word or words.

lChalk writing – writing on paper or outside if you have space to do so.

lKitchen cupboard game find me all the things that start with ‘a’ and so on.

lWord searches.

lWord wheels – draw a small circle and then a bigger one, split the circle into 8 parts and place random letters into the spaces then a vowel in the centre. The central letter must be used each time in making lots of 3, 4 and more words.

lSandpit spelling words in the sand or using shaving foam.

lBath time fun – writing words or sentences in steamed up walls/windows.

lBake letters.

lSpaghetti letters – adult cooks spaghetti and once cooled children can make letters and words with the pasta and stick down if you have glue.

lPlay dough letters and words.

lWrite to a member of the family elsewhere or a friend from school to share your news from home.

lTorch or lamp game – dark room and shine a torch or lamp onto a wall. Show objects next to the light source and the children can guess what the shadows of the common objects are and name them.

lIf you have a scrabble game, use the letters to practice spelling words or make up a word and the child can write a sentence around it. You can also experiment with vowels and consonants.

lGuess who game is great for describing parts of the body/hair colours. This reinforces social and survival language.

lWrite a story about anything you want – what interests you? Speak to someone online and share your exciting story.

lTake a camera or iPad outside and make a short film about the outdoor space or from a window. What’s happening outside? Think about – is it quiet, why? Why is it busy? Where are people going? Write a story or a video discussing your thoughts about what you see. This can be done in any language.

lFocus on the wildlife outside your window. What birds or animals can you see? Take a note each day for a week what is happening. You can draw a chart with the information you see each day. Share this with everyone else in your home.

lUsing a phone, create a video diary of your day and send a letter to someone about your main events.

lTake notes from the news report online or from the TV and discuss with other family members.

lCan you make your own news report of what is happening in the world news? Children can write or make a short video/cartoon strip/diagram/chart to reinterpret information.

lKeep a journal/diary of events at home.

More ideas on Twitter – @EALGlasgow @aleksan64823683