'Talking timetable' supports children with EAL

Annette Rawstrone
Thursday, April 21, 2011

Children with English as an additional language are benefitting from the introduction of a visual and audio timetable and story sacks at a Lancashire nursery.

Little Acorns Community Day Nursery is based in the Daneshouse with Stoneyholme area of Burnley which has a high Asian population. Staff have developed the initiatives as part of the Every Child a Talker (ECAT) scheme which focuses on children with English as an additional language.

Locally spoken languages include Punjabi, Pushto and Urdu and many of the nursery staff are also bi-lingual. The initiative aims to develop children’s listening, speech and language skills and also enhance staff communication.

Deputy manager Amanda Stringer, the nursery’s ECAT lead, designed a ‘talking timetable’ to help familiarise children with the day’s routines which can reassure and settle children and encourage reluctant speakers.

The wall mounted board highlights regular daily activities using photographs showing children at the nursery carrying out key routines such as snack time, hand washing and eating lunch. Each activity has a corresponding number which when pressed by a child describes the activity in English and other languages spoken in the community.

Parental involvement in ECAT is also essential for the scheme’s success and staff are encouraging parents to read and tell stories to their children by sending story sacks home.

Both parents and children have found the story sacks, which include a book and relevant props and photos, a lot of fun. ‘The nursery’s story sack library is very popular with both parents and children,’ says Ms Stringer. ‘They are excellent for children who are reluctant talkers and the children love listening to their parents read the stories as they act them out using the props and photos. We are very pleased with the results so far.’

One boy who entered the nursery last term with the ability to speak Pushto but not much English was reluctant to talk but, with support from staff and his parents, now speaks English with confidence. His mother says, ‘This has changed my son’s life.’

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