This overview can help you understand how to apply the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework to support children who are learning English as an additional language (EAL).

There are increasing numbers of children entering EYFS settings for whom English is not the dominant language in the home.

Many practitioners in settings across the country already work successfully with children and families who speak languages other than English. For some there will be one or two language groups represented in their setting; for others the population may be linguistically and culturally very diverse.

For growing numbers of settings, providing care and learning opportunities for children and families new to English, or at various stages of proficiency, is a new experience.

Practitioners in every setting want to ensure that their provision matches the development and learning needs of all their children. This advice is drawn from existing good practice developed by practitioners working with babies, young children and their families.


This resource is set within the themes, principles and commitments of the EYFS and should be read in conjunction with the EYFS: Principles into practice (PDF-170 KB) Attachments card. Following the introductory sections the resource is set out under the four themes, offering extended ‘Effective practice’, ‘Challenges and dilemmas’ and ‘Reflecting on practice’ sections for:

  • A Unique Child
  • Positive Relationships
  • Enabling Environments

For the theme of:

  • Learning and Development

the ‘Effective practice’ section is further broken down into subheadings.