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Supporting English as an Additional Language (EAL) at transition to school - Supporting EAL - Role of multilingual aides and interpreters

Bilingual educators and multilingual aides and interpreters play a vital role in the maintenance and development of children’s home language and English as an additional language (EAL). Their role is not just in facilitating communication with families and the broader community. Their cultural knowledge can be tapped into to inform the teaching program.

The aides and interpreters work with families, children and teachers.

Working with families:

  • Meet families on arrival to explain the program.
  • Interpret between family members and staff.
  • Assist with home visits.
  • Explain the policy of the service.
  • Answer families’ concerns and communicate their wishes to staff.
  • Participate in enrolment procedures.
  • Assist with development of information leaflets and newsletters, etc.

Working with children learning EAL:

  • Help children continue using their home language.
  • Encourage children to observe and listen to others.
  • Assist children to make sense of what they see and hear.
  • Encourage children to experiment with language.
  • Help children to interact with others and share experiences.
  • Provide opportunities for children to practise what they know and can do.

Working with teachers:

  • Settle children into new routines and environment.
  • Provide a bridge between home and educational setting.
  • Take small groups for stories, games, discussion.
  • Provide language models for the children and expand children’s language.
  • Take an active part in planning the program.
  • Assist in the development of policies.
  • Contribute to staff meetings.
  • Assist with reporting and evaluating children’s progress.

Using interpreters at school

Schools with students and families from language backgrounds other than English need to ensure that information relating to school programs and student progress is made available to parents in their home language.

To facilitate this, the Department of Education and Training provides schools with access to qualified/accredited interpreters, in line with Victorian government policy to help Victorians from culturally and linguistically diverse communities deal with government departments and agencies. All schools have been provided with the guidelines and booking forms.

Further information:

Use an interpreter or translator

DVD – Talking in Tune – A guide to working with interpreters in school

Watch Supporting home language.

Watch Supporting English language development.