First language assessment of young EAL learners

EMTAS Research

EMTAS research published on British Council EAL NEXUS website

This project focuses on the development and piloting of a first language assessment tool for use with young children for whom English is an Additional Language (EAL).

The intention is that this tool be used alongside existing statutory assessments that Early Years practitioners are required to carry out on children’s developing skills in English and it should not replace these.

In England in Year R, the development of children aged 4–5 is currently assessed across 17 key areas – the Early Learning Goals (ELGs), as described in the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile. Most of these assessments can be carried out in any language but the assessments for the ELGs for Communication, Language and Literacy must be carried out in English.

The new tool provides information about children’s first language skills to practitioners in a format that is similar to that of the Foundation Stage Profile (FSP) and therefore familiar. Used alongside the FSP, it can provide practitioners with a fuller picture of young bilingual learners’ language skills both in their first languages and in English.

Because of the detail it provides about a child’s abilities in first language, it can help practitioners understand whether or not a child’s language development is progressing normally and support the early identification of those at risk of delay or disorder.

Furthermore, it can provide evidence for children with a particular gift for language, bringing to light the abilities of a child who is developing skills that are in advance of age-related expectations.

At EMTAS, we plan to continue to develop our work in this area over the coming months, extending the pilot to include more languages. 

Further details

For further details see the First language assessment of young EAL learners on the British Council EAL Nexus website.