Effective strategies for supporting EAL/D students

A wide range of resources, detailing effective strategies, high level initiatives and practices, is available to support your EAL/D students.

Effective strategies for supporting EAL/D students can be viewed through the lens of What works best: 2020 update (CESE). The EAL/D school evaluation framework provides a wealth of practices that can provide your school with direction for high level initiatives. Detailed advice about data-informed effective classroom practice is provided in English as an additional language or dialect: EAL/D advice for schools.

Community engagement is a wellbeing strategy, and wellbeing is a theme of What works best: 2020 update (CESE).

By promoting positive community relations through effective communication with parents and community members from diverse cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds and ensuring inclusive teaching practices, you are following the Multicultural Education Policy and fostering student wellbeing. Multicultural education Engaging communities provides strategies for fostering community engagement such as use of interpreters and bilingual support.

Examples of practice

Examples of practice from the EAL/D school evaluation framework that could be used as success criteria include:

  • communication to parents/ carers is routinely translated into a variety of languages
  • interpreting and translation services are integrated into school procedures to ensure effective two-way communication between LBOTE (language backgrounds other than English) parents/ carers and staff
  • class/ subject teachers identify the skills and experiences of LBOTE parents and use this to develop a culturally inclusive learning environment, for example, bilingual reading
  • inclusive teaching practices are implemented which promote acceptance and intercultural understanding
  • Specialist interpreters, bilingual or multilingual teaching support, and/or SLSO staff are utilised to facilitate effective communication and engagement of LBOTE students and families.

Assessment of learning, a What works best - 2020 update (CESE) theme, is a continual process for targeted instruction for EAL/D students. Established teacher practices for assessment may include ACARA EAL/D learning progression, ESL scales, the NSW syllabuses for English and the literacy progressions.

With a holistic view of each student’s English language and literacy skills, teachers develop differentiated practices resulting in explicit instruction.

Examples of practice

Examples of practice from the EAL/D School evaluation framework that could be used as success criteria.

  • School leaders and EAL/D specialist teachers regularly lead school-based professional learning which integrates EAL/D practices for all teachers of EAL/D students.
  • The EAL/D supervisor develops and implements processes to support teachers to collect and use ongoing EAL/D assessment data for monitoring and reporting of EAL/D student learning progress across key learning areas (KLAs).

To effectively support EAL/D students across the curriculum, explicit instruction is required. See the theme in What works best - 2020 update (CESE).

When planning for teaching, teachers should identify target curriculum outcomes and learning goals. Unpacking the language learning demands for EAL/D learners means identifying the requirements of a task, the language demands and the cultural knowledge students require. Backward mapping from an assessment task can help teachers to identify a language and literacy focus and plan a sequence of activities that will support EAL/D learners to achieve the task. Strategies employed may include using visual cues, multi-media or supportive scaffolds.

Examples of practice

Examples of practice from the EAL/D school evaluation framework that could be used as success criteria.

  • Differentiation based on effective EAL/D pedagogy for EAL/D students is evident in teaching and learning programs.
  • EAL/D student assessment data is used to monitor and evaluate student understanding of subject content and English language development to inform teaching programs and practice.

Teaching sequences with high challenge and high support provide the high expectations environment necessary for EAL/D students to achieve their best. See the theme in What works best - 2020 update (CESE). EAL/D students require an amplification of the curriculum rather than a simplification. In practical terms this means close collaboration (a What works best theme) between classroom teachers and EAL/D specialists to provide explicit teaching so that students can meet the English language and cultural demands of syllabus outcomes. EAL/D support is most effective where EAL/D and classroom teachers collaborate to plan and teach.

Example of practice

Example of practice from the EAL/D school evaluation framework that could be used as success criteria.

  • Subject/ class teachers and EAL/D specialist teachers collaborate to identify and address the cultural and language demands of tasks for EAL/D students.

The organisation of support for EAL/D students varies from school to school depending on:

  • the number of EAL/D students
  • their current levels of English
  • the year and class placements of those students
  • the number and availability of EAL/D teachers and other staff with EAL/D teaching expertise.

Examples of practice

Examples of practice from the EAL/D school evaluation framework that could be used as success criteria.

  • EAL/D specialist staff and SASS staff collaborate to establish systems and processes to identify and support EAL/D student enrolment.
  • An annual cycle for EAL/D planning is established, informed by data from the Annual EAL/D and LBOTE surveys, EAL/D student assessment data and the EAL/D advice for schools.

Key resources

Professional learning

To achieve excellence in supporting EAL/D students, your school's Strategic Improvement Plan is likely to include professional learning initiatives. Professional learning to support teachers of EAL/D students developed by the Multicultural Education team includes:

  • EAL/D Orientation: for teachers newly appointed to EAL/D positions – RG00336
  • Using the EAL/D Learning Progression – RG01032
  • Teaching English Language Learners – RG00225
  • Leading EAL/D Education: developing evidence-based whole school strategies – RG00354
  • Teaching students from a refugee background
  • Facilitator training: STARS in Schools.

Reflective questions

  • How have we used the EAL/D school evaluation framework, What works best: 2020 update (CESE), English as an additional language or dialect: EAL/D advice for schools and other resources to source effective strategies as part of our Strategic Improvement Plan (SIP)?
  • Are our EAL/D students supported with accessible instructional materials, for example, visuals, checklists, diagram or flow charts?
  • Are our teachers presenting information on the same topic in multiple ways to support our EAL/D students to link concepts with language and build field knowledge, for example, using images, film or graphic organiser?
  • Are our teachers scaffolding learning to develop an understanding of concepts and language, for example, with cloze passages, sequencing tasks, sentence stems or recording texts?
  • Do we model language to each student, providing opportunities for each student to practise new language?
  • How can home language be used as a tool to support learning, for example, with bilingual dictionaries, parental support or bilingual resources?
  • Are we explicitly providing opportunities for the active engagement of all community members, including for those parents who require an interpreter?
  • How are we countering racism and discrimination, and how are we fostering student wellbeing, cultural diversity and community harmony?
  • How effective is our school in identifying, assessing and supporting EAL/D students who have high potential in one or more domains, or who have additional needs?

Learn more

Find out more about School Excellence in Action.


  • Teaching and learning


  • Access and equity
  • Curriculum and learning activities
  • Health, safety and wellbeing
  • Literacy
  • School Excellence Framework
  • Teaching

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  • School Performance – South
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