Collecting the evidence
Assessing language stages
It is recommended that schools use a robust assessment system that will record and monitor progress with English. In Solihull, we use our own Profile of Competence. This will enable staff to monitor expected progress across time, continuous teacher assessment is the best way to do this. It is important that staff are aware of typical transfer errors between languages, as these may explain persisting grammatical errors in learning English.
Assessing first language development
Some young children who have been born in the UK will have been exposed to little or no English before starting school. A first language assessment can be especially useful in diagnosing a language difficulty for those pupils whose progress is already causing concern, compared with other bilingual children from a similar background. It can also help to establish whether there are processing difficulties which will be apparent in the first language and can be a useful diagnostic indicator.
A bilingual TA can administer a first language assessment; failing this, it will be essential to get an interpreter and to ensure that the interpreter is a speaker of the exact same language (and dialect) as well as au fait with working in an education environment. A first language assessment will help establish if a child’s first language is delayed or poorly developed. The EAL Service can support schools with first language assessments.
Other assessment strategies
The CAML-yl assessment is a set of activities that are designed to identify specific learning differences in multi-lingual learners. The assessment is not intended to provide a “diagnosis” but rather to provide indicators of the areas in which there may be difficulties/differences. The assessments are not dependent on English for success and are designed to assess skills, rather than language proficiency. The results can provide a useful indicator of where children may be having difficulties. The EAL Service can administer this test. More information can be found here http://eltwell.com/
It is important to keep a record of children’s oral communication skills. The EAL Service has developed a communication matrix for this purpose. It should enable staff to track children’s language development from single words and phrases to more complex interactions. An example can be found at the bottom of this page.