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Teachers need readily accessible guidance that identifies the ‘how, when and why of EAL’ and this occasional paper goes some way to doing that by presenting the current state of play for EAL according to both research and practice.
Rapid technological change has meant that everyday practices surrounding reading and writing have shifted significantly over the last 20 years. Most homes have access to a range of digital devices and children are brought up in a world where they expect screens to be their companions, toys, entertainers, information givers and means of social communication. Many screen-based texts combine words with moving images, sound, colour, a range of photographic, drawn or digitally created visuals; some are interactive, encouraging the reader to compose, represent and communicate through the several dimensions offered by the technology. Not only are there new types of digital texts, however, but a massive proliferation of book and magazine texts which use image, word, layout and typography, often echoing the dimensions of screen-based technology. The availability and familiarity of these texts mean that young people bring wider experience of text to the classroom. But although many children experience digital texts and environments from a very early age their access to technology varies considerably. There will be differences according to social, cultural, personal and economic factors so that in thinking of how best teachers can respond to the digital experience of their children, focusing on skills is not enough.