Action Research Project – 2022

In 2022, we have embedded our Research into our weekly planning. So far this year:

We used experiential learning to great success, again exploring texture/taste and smell. We developed this further by regularly using this language so when we came to the final experience, the children were encourage to combine these keywords, such as, ‘It tastes sweet and it is crunchy. It smells sweet but tastes sour and it is chewy’. Developing the language in this natural way allowed a depth to the discussions.

Using high quality texts and building story maps alongside a reading, have supported this understanding of story structure when we moved from ‘Mouse and Me’ stories (role-play) towards building helicopter stories. The children were more able than last year to create simple stories stories with a problem and resolution. However, this was not the case for all classes. One class needed to remain within simple story language as it has a high quotient of EAL children (two thirds of the class), hence, the need to build vocabulary and short phrases was of greater importance.

Action Research Project – 2021

First I identified a problem in Reception:

  • Large number of children little/no English
  • Speak English only when spoken to by an adult
  • Slow development of English communication skills

Ideas on how to support these children were often incidental and limited to one or two staff members.

We created a focus group to explore solutions with teachers, LAs, EYE and the Madarin Enrichment teacher to find out what was working best to imbed language understanding.

The focus group consisted of two sessions, one to gain ideas and one to discuss ideas and their sequencing.

Key findings


Frequent use of talk partners/group work discussion: less ‘hands up’

Fair Sticks – talk to teaching assistant first or say in Mandarin to encourage speaking

Use both English and Chinese to share stories, use both languages to begin to build language 

Ask question before activities – play/snack/outdoors, children answer in a full sentence, I like___ because_. LA and Chinese Enrichment teacher to respond in both English and Chinese.


Language focussed books with repetition (Mouse and Me). Use these and encourage children to repeat the language back and in context, develop to acting out the stories

Taught sentences/instructions – have TPR: eg, I go to, I go with, I go by…also key vocab – tall (arm up), short (arm down), heavy (flat palm down as scales) whilst light is flat palm up and high. Sentence structures in units built upon to use connectives such as ‘and’. Model sentence structures in other contexts. To develop from present tense, to past, then future

Re-inforce sentences, repeating back full sentences when children answer with one word

Characters feelings/self regulation pictures – keep emphasising, helps feelings with readers and whole class books


Prompting children to speak in English – if using a level I (English speaker) can understand you can talk in English. Begin to scaffold into English – usually missing English for colour or object

When children ask in Chinese respond in English 

Ask – Do you mean… try out the English 

Translate discussions – LA and children


Plan stories ahead – front loading for parents/class vocab

Classroom objects – create own dictionary of classroom resources – Use this key vocab in adult-student interactions

Visual timetable

Identify key daily phrases – reinforce during repeated routines

Teach language through experiential learning (taste/smell/touch)

5 per half-term of ‘Class books’ : language with illustrations and simple sentence structures – words of the week gained from these

Class story to develop to helicopter stories – modelled and children’s own. Build story language and repeated phrases

Masters Level Practitioner Research – 2019

Action Research Project: Understanding interactions with pre-verbal children, through co-research with parents as partners

Story Makers Dialogues – Published Masters Action Research – Leeds Beckett University

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