Supporting the EAL child in the Primary Science Classroom

Supporting the EAL child in the Primary Science classroom requires the use of real concrete objects. Using real objects will provide more vocabulary. To get this message across I started off with the teachers gathering together all the vocabulary they could think of for a lemon. When they had done this, I then showed them a coloured photograph of the lemon. They then had to cross off words from their list/mind map that no longer applied. After this I repeated the activity using a black and white photograph.

However, there is a caveat with EAL children, if they do not know the English vocabulary you must provide it for them. Preparation is vital. Prepared vocabulary cards either in English or ideally in their home language too, should be the first thing a teacher or the class teaching assistant should prepare before any topic. My full presentation is here Supporting the EAL child in Pscience


hands on fossils 2

Enjoying touching the fossils at the Palaeontology Museum in Moscow


hands on fossils

Follow up work essential after this visit. They could confuse fossilised coral with live coral

I am always perplexed when science is often seen as separate from learning English. I was recently questioned as to why I would have children researching science vocabulary during a guided reading session! Well here is a something that was mentioned at a lecture I attended at Kings College about Science and language

It is worth remembering that ‘A teacher of science is fundamentally a teacher of language.’ The average science course introduces 6-8 new words a lesson (Merzyn,1987)

Also remember that practical investigative work alongside good use of vocabulary is essential for the EAL/ESL learner. Concept Cartoons have proved invaluable in my classroom, not to just instigate discussions but focus children on how they will investigate their chosen theory.

When using vocabulary cards make sure they are followed through with word games/word searches. Your EAL/ESL children will go home at weekends and holidays and will be immersed in their own culture and language. They will forget the vocabulary so help them to remember. Don’t forget to give them science homework, they may have an adult or older sibling who understands the concepts and can help them (I will put up an example of children’s work later – unfortunately these pictures were on that stolen phone)

Links and other comments can be found on the presentation that is above. I have also attached below some of the vocabulary cards that I made for the workshop.

EAL Science Vocabulary – Evaporation and Condensation our recent year 5 topic

This is good, but follow through with word games and pictures which will benefit EAL/ESL child

This is good to have, but pictures with the words and games will be more beneficial for the EAL/ESL child


Year 2 – materials updated

I am in the process of making vocabulary word cards along with suitable pictures, they will be in a word format so you can edit and go on to make games with them. If you are interested please contact me here 



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