The eight What works best themes below offer helpful ways of thinking about aspects of teaching practice. They are not discrete but overlap and connect with one another in complex ways. Use the guided journey to see what the eight themes look like in a context with EAL/D learners.

What works best: EAL/D

How do teachers' expectations of students affect teaching practice?

High expectations

The eight themes of what works best with the High expectations theme highlighted

Teachers’ beliefs about their students influence how they teach and interact with them. High expectations are linked with higher performance for all students. The reverse can also be true. Students may achieve less than their full potential if expectations of their ability are low.

EAL/D learners have the same academic capability as their English speaking peers. Working towards the same syllabus outcomes as other students while offering targeted English language support illustrates high expectations for EAL/D learners.

Teachers can access professional learning on how to support EAL/D learners in their English language learning needs while meeting stage appropriate syllabus outcomes. The Classrooms of possibility (staff only) suite of videos offers illustrations of practice in supporting EAL/D learners, particularly for students with a refugee background.

What learning gains can be made through explicit teaching?

Explicit teaching

The eight themes of what works best with the Explicit teaching theme highlighted

Explicit teaching practices involve teachers clearly showing students what to do and how to do it, rather than having students discover that information themselves. Students who experience explicit teaching practices make greater learning gains than students who do not experience these practices.

EAL/D students require explicit English language instruction as well as multiple opportunities to encounter KLA-specific language. They also need to be explicitly taught types of texts, sentence structure, paragraphing, and grammar and how these elements of literacy are applied in each KLA.

The EAL/D enhanced teaching and learning cycle assists teachers to plan and implement an explicit focus on English language learning.

EAL/D resources (staff only) have been designed to support the learning needs of EAL/D students in working towards the HSC minimum standard.

How does effective feedback support student learning?

Effective feedback

The eight themes of what works best with the Effective feedback theme highlighted

Effective feedback provides students with relevant, explicit, ongoing, constructive and actionable information about their performance against learning outcomes from the syllabus.

EAL/D learners benefit from effective feedback on their English language learning and their curriculum content learning. Both of these aspects of learning are reported to parents in the bi-annual school reports. EAL/D Elaborations of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers supports teachers to provide effective feedback.

How can teachers use data to understand and monitor student progress?

Use of data to inform practice

The eight themes of what works best with the Use of data to inform practice theme highlighted

Teachers use data to check and understand where their students are in their learning and to plan what to do next. Effective analysis of student data helps teachers identify areas where students’ learning needs may require additional attention and development.

The EAL/D Learning Progression (PDF 397 KB) supports teachers to determine the current strengths and needs of English language learners. The Using the EAL/D Learning Progression (staff only) professional learning supports teachers in their understanding of this data tool, as does the short video below.

EAL/D learning progression

Data drawn from both the EAL/D learning progression and the National literacy learning progression has been analysed to assist EAL/D learners to achieve the HSC minimum standard in this Illustration of practice.

How can assessment be used to know that learning is taking place and inform next steps?


The eight themes of what works best with the Assessment theme highlighted

High quality student assessment helps us know that learning is taking place. Assessment is most effective when it is an integral part of teaching and learning programs, and as outlined in the department’s five elements of effective assessment practice.

EAL/D learners’ acquisition of the English language can be assessed using the EAL/D Learning Progression (PDF 397 KB), as decribed in the EAL/D Learning Progression video. A range of professional learning supports classroom teachers to understand and use the EAL/D learning progression, and to differentiate assessment for EAL/D learners.

How can the right conditions for learning set students up for success?

Classroom management

The eight themes of what works best with the Classroom management theme highlighted

Classroom management is important for creating the conditions for learning. Effective classroom management minimises and addresses all levels of disengagement and disruptive behaviours.

Effective classroom management is as applicable to EAL/D learners as to their English-speaking peers. A description of effective classroom management with EAL/D learners is detailed in EAL/D Elaborations of the Australian Professional Standards. Classroom and school environments that are culturally inclusive and recognise the knowledge and culture of students from diverse backgrounds will support engagement and positive behaviour in classes with EAL/D students.

How can we create a safe environment for students?


The eight themes of what works best with the Wellbeing theme highlighted

At school, the practices that support student wellbeing involve creating a safe environment; ensuring connectedness; engaging students in their learning; and promoting social and emotional skills.

A number of frameworks and documents detail how teachers can promote the wellbeing of their EAL/D learners: EAL/D advice for schools (PDF 5.39 MB), EAL/D School Evaluation Framework (PDF 392 KB), and the EAL/D Elaborations of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

The Multicultural education website offers advice on the wellbeing needs of students from a refugee background, where teachers can access targeted professional learning and resources to support their refugee students.

Supporting teaching practice through professional collaboration and further learning.


The eight themes of what works best with the Collaboration theme highlighted

Professional collaboration allows best practice to be identified and shared across classrooms. Effective collaboration explicitly aims to improve teacher practices and student outcomes.

Effective models of collaborative practices between EAL/D specialist teachers and classroom teachers are detailed in the EAL/D advice for schools (PDF 5.39 MB), while the EAL/D School Evaluation Framework (PDF 392 KB) allows schools to monitor their EAL/D collaborative practice.

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