English for beginners

Research in Lambeth indicates that new arrivals from abroad often learn English very rapidly and to a high level – if they have had a good education in their home country and are given opportunities to  transfer existing linguistic and study skills at school in London.  Here are a range of lesson ideas for use with older beginners:

  • Welcome the child to your class, smile and learn their name
  • make some useful phrase cards/learn some phrases in the first language
  • Find out as much as you can about the his/her previous education (strengths and weaknesses)
  • Use the buddy system by giving them a friendly buddy with excellent use of English
  • Arrange a suitable reading programme

And here is a link to Wokingham LA New arrivals toolkit

Most teachers would agree that no two new arrivals are alike in terms of previous education and language history, which is why providing a course for new arrivals is so difficult.  However below is a short induction course for new arrivals, covering basic vocabulary, reading and writing which can be used in conjunction with any published course.

New Arrivals Course

Start with games –

you can play these in dedicated EAL time or in break times

  • Shopping List ®
  • Tell The Time ®
  • Pop to the Shops ®
  • Bus Stop
  • Woodland Happy Families ®
  • The London Board Game ®
  • Guess Who? ®
  • Orchard Toys
  • Orchard Toys
  • Orchard Toys
  • Orchard Toys
  • HP Gibson and sons
  • John Adams
  • Hasbro

Reading for younger beginners

Good reading books readers should be fairly easy to read with plenty of visual clues to the text; age appropriate and show ethnic diversity. The story line should confront dilemmas, which can then be discussed. Some suggestions for readers can be found here:

Late for SchoolCEA @ Islington
Shana Goes ShoppingCEA @ Islington
Paradise IslandHeinemann ELT978 0435271596
The Girl Who Wouldn’t Wear GlassesHeinemann JAWS 978 0435891213
The Red FlagHeinemann JAWS 978 0435891162
The Talking LizardHeinemann JAWS 978 0435898045
Trolley TroubleHeinemann JAWS 978 0435891084
The Barcelona GameLongman978 1405884389
Sailing DaysMacmillan 978 1405028264
Lucky DayMacmillan 978 0333689189
 Goodbye, Mr HollywoodOxford Bookworm 978 0194789059
Kim’s ChoicePenguinReader978 1405851978
The Missing CoinsPenguinReader978 1405878142
Surfer!PenguinReader978 1405869690
Frog and Toad seriesHarper and Row

Remote teaching for older pupils with limited or no literacy

Slide Shows

Custom made slide shows can be useful when pupils are new and know very few words. They can build up vocabulary and be used for reading, as well as being useful for teaching a particular grammar element (past tenses).


Books bought on Kindle can be presented to a reader on screen using Kindle Cloud Reader. While not ideal, this is better than no reading together. I have been using Dr Zeuss books in this way for new arrivals who cannot yet read at all. The books have a very limited vocabulary, are funny and have phonic themes. Current favourites are Hop on Pop, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Green Eggs and Ham and The Foot Book.

Remote teaching

I have been using lessons from

The British Council Learn English Teens

Premier Skills English

Lessons may be downloaded and printed or used directly online

Skills Workshop has free downloadable worksheets including comprehension and grammar for all levels https://www.skillsworkshop.org/

Amanda Gay 2022

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