Intentions versus enactment: making sense of policy and practice for teaching English as an additional language.

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This article examines the relationship between policy and practice for the teaching of children with English as an additional language (EAL) in English schools. It contributes original insights into how teachers are supported or restricted in developing the nuances of pedagogy needed for children new to English. The reported research took place against a backdrop of rising numbers of migrant children with EAL in English schools, partnered with a significant reduction in educational funding for these children and a limited focus on EAL in educational policy. Policy documents for EAL from two contrasting but contiguous periods of government were compared through an intertextual lens, and this was set alongside responses to a survey of teachers about their sense-making of policies and practices for EAL. Findings contribute to much-needed practical understanding of how policy enactment in practice may be divorced from policy makers’ intentions. Outcomes provide a timely evidence-base which enhances our grasp of the complexity of teachers’ professional lives in relation to children from different linguistic backgrounds. Moreover, analysis uncovers where policymakers’ discourse reflects how children with EAL are perceived and received in their host countries during a period of hitherto unseen high levels of migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-427
Number of pages18
JournalLanguage and Education
Issue number5
Early online date30 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2018


  • EAL
  • Language policy
  • education policy enactment
  • migration
  • sense-making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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