Substitution Tables

Often asking an EAL learner that is New to English (DfE Code A) to write independently causes stresses and strains for the learner.  Substitution tables are a great way to remove the stress and scaffold them to write independently.

The image below is an example of a substitution table taken from a Science lesson in which learners had to describe different specialised cells.


Language is split into chunks and learners are given a range of choices to scaffold them in formulating sentences.  Learners are writing sentences that are directly linked to what they are learning giving them highly contextualised examples of how language is used in particular subjects.

We can differentiate substitution tables to cater for the differing proficiencies of EAL learners that we have in our classroom. For example, for an EAL learner that is new to English I might give them fewer word / phrase choices and more simple grammatical structures. For more advanced EAL learners I would make the choices of words or phrases more challenging by including things such as a wider range of verb choices that might include choices of subject / verb agreement (is / are, was / were) more complex grammatical structures such as the passive voice and a wider range of choices of how to formulate sentences.

We can create substitution tables for any writing task that we want our EAL learners to complete.  The table can be linked to any genre of writing and can be as simple or complex as we like.  The substitution table should provide models of the target language to support learning about writing in a particular genre.

Substitution tables are very easy to create.  I use Microsoft Word in portrait layout and then create a table with as many columns as needed depending on the writing that you expect your learners to do.

I think that substitution tables are a great way to support all EAL learners and I use them a lot in my own classroom practice.

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