Frameworks and tools

EAL/D Learning Progression

EAL/D students are learning the English language at the same time as developing their literacy and numeracy. Assessing English language proficiency on the EAL/D learning progression can assist in the effective tailoring of teaching to support language, literacy and numeracy development.

The EAL/D Learning Progression describes how students with English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) typically progress in their English language learning.

Watch the introduction to the EAL/D Learning Progression.

EAL/D Learning Progression


The EAL/D Learning Progression describes a progression of English language learning typical of students learning English as an additional language or dialect.

The EAL/D Learning Progression has been developed primarily for teachers who are not EAL/D specialist teachers, to assist with: firstly, understanding the broad phasing of English language learning that EAL/D students are likely to experience.

Secondly, identifying where their students are on the progression and the nature of their speaking, listening, reading/viewing and writing skills.

And thirdly, monitoring the linguistic progress of their EAL/D learners.

The EAL/D Learning Progression gives a broad description of learner characteristics for each of the four phases of English language learning.

The EAL/D Learning Progression describes the phases of English language learning for the three main stages of schooling: K to Year 2, Years 3 to 6, and Years 7 to 10.

It is important to note that EAL/D students may enter NSW public schools at any stage of education, and at any phase on the EAL/D Learning Progression.

The four phases are: Beginning English, Emerging English, Developing English and Consolidating English.

Beginning phase students are unfamiliar with the English language. Some beginning phase students may have familiarity with print in their first language, while other students, a sub-category known as Limited Literacy Background, have limited or no experience of literacy in any language.

Emerging phase students have a growing degree of print literacy and oral language competency in English, and require significant support to access the curriculum and express their understanding.

Developing phase students still require language to be taught explicitly to fully access the curriculum, and have developing degrees of knowledge of print literacy and oral language competency in English.

As the term suggests, Consolidating phase students have a sound knowledge of spoken and written English, including a growing competency with academic English. They will require explicit teaching to develop their understanding of culturally laden topics of study.

EAL/D learners will move through the phases at different rates: some students may move through more than one phase in a school year, while others may take more than one year to move from one phase to another.

EAL/D learners may be at different phases across the language modes of listening, speaking, reading/viewing and writing. A student may be Developing English in reading while still at Emerging English in writing.

EAL/D learners who are not meeting age-related benchmarks when assessed against syllabus outcomes may not necessarily be ‘underperforming’, but rather achieving at levels commensurate with their English language learning phase. The EAL/D Learning Progression can assist in differentiation and scaffolding.

Transition from one stage of school to another may cause an EAL/D learner to plateau or slip.

The EAL/D Learning Progression assists us to differentiate our teaching and learning to support our English language learners achieve syllabus outcomes.

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The ACARA EAL/D Teacher Resource contains annotated content descriptions from Kindergarten to Year 10 in English, mathematics, science and history. Please cross-reference this Australian curriculum content with your NSW syllabuses.

EAL/D specialist teachers should refer to the ESL Scales to inform their planning, programming and teaching.

Capability Framework: Teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander EAL/D learners

The Capability Framework: Teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander EAL/D learners was developed to increase the capacity of teachers in rural, remote and metropolitan areas to better meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander EAL/D learners. The framework is aligned with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

For more on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander EAL/D learners visit Aboriginal Education in NSW public schools.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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