Q-BEx and research-informed practice

How can the Q-BEx questionnaire be useful for schools?

The Q-BEx questionnaire allows schools to gather information about a learner’s language background and experience, both in English and in home language(s). This enables us to move beyond the binary ‘EAL’ status and gain a detailed understanding of the learner’s linguistic profile.

This can be beneficial in several ways:

  • Understanding the language experience of newly-arrived pupils
  • Informing the language profile of pupils at key transition points e.g. KS1, KS3
  • Identifying language concerns and support interventions
  • Facilitating cross-sector collaboration, e.g. between teachers and speech and language therapists


How can the Q-BEx questionnaire contribute to EAL research priorities?

The EAL Research Priority Setting Partnership – a collaboration between researchers, teachers, parents and EAL students coordinated by researchers at the University of Oxford – recently set 10 priorities for research in EAL. Two of these priorities in particular have a specific focus on aspects of the bilingual language experience where the Q-BEx questionnaire can make a new contribution.

Priority 1

What is the impact of inclusion teaching vs pull out teaching for EAL learners’ English language development? Does this vary with age, time spent learning English, and/or stage of English language development? If so, in what ways?

While the Q-Bex questionnaire does not directly address the impact of different types of teaching for EAL learners, it can provide valuable information on their language and literacy experience in and out of school. Used in combination with data on EAL learners’ proficiency in English and in their other language(s), the Q-BEx questionnaire can provide a holistic picture of the learner that can inform realistic teachers’ expectations.

Priority 5

What are effective/reliable ways to identify Special Educational Needs and Disability in EAL learners that differ from normal and expected language learning needs?

The Q-BEx questionnaire gathers information about English and the EAL learners’ other language(s) by collecting a detail set of information from the people that know the children best: their parents and caregivers. A thorough picture of the learners’ exposure and use of all their languages – including the diversity of contexts in which the languages are used – and information about caregiver concerns about children’s developmental milestones, will provide vital information to teachers, SENCOs, and speech and language therapists in distinguishing difference from disorder. Developmental Language Disorder, for instance, a common speech and language and communication need that affects 2 children in every classroom, will be an issue for some EAL learners too. Crucially, information on all the children’s languages is needed for a differential diagnosis, and this is where Q-BEx can provide critical contextual information to assist teachers and speech and language therapists.