Teaching and learning

Students who are learning English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D)  simultaneously learn English, learn in and about English to successfully participate in social interactions and academic contexts.

Teaching English language learners

EAL/D teaching and learning focuses on students learning English in context and across the curriculum so that they acquire the English language skills relevant to each content area. EAL/D specialist teaching needs to integrate within subject areas to support students in learning language for school.

In order to effectively support the needs of targeted EAL/D students in learning across the curriculum, teachers should identify the language, literacy demands, cultural and conceptual knowledge underlying the curriculum and texts in class programs. Teachers identify target curriculum outcomes and learning goals in their planning. Unpacking the language learning demands for EAL/D learners means identifying the requirements of tasks, the language processes and the types of texts students are required to respond to and produce in a range of subjects.

Differentiation for EAL/D learners

Differentiation for EAL/D learners refers to the design of classroom content, processes and products to be inclusive of the unique cultural and English language needs of EAL/D learners.

Scaffolding, support that is designed to provide the assistance necessary to enable learners to accomplish tasks and develop understandings that they would not quite be able to manage on their own (Hamond 2001), is an effective strategy to assist EAL/D students to gain content knowledge, while providing extra time and assistance to master the English language required to engage with texts or complete classroom tasks.

Examples of differentiating through scaffolding can include:

  • providing more time and input to build field knowledge
  • providing visual or bilingual supports
  • breaking tasks into smaller sections
  • giving explicit instruction on English language features
  • providing models to support learning
  • arranging opportunities for practice and feedback
  • ensuring language is used in context and
  • creating opportunities for oral interaction.

Collaborative planning

EAL/D support is most effective where EAL/D and classroom teachers are able to work together. This may be done through collaborative or team teaching programs or, where that is not appropriate or possible, through the joint development of programs that provide explicit language learning support in the context of the curriculum.

EAL/D specialist teachers work with class teachers to identify specific language skills and knowledge EAL/D students need to participate in learning activities. Backward mapping from an assessment task helps to identify a language and literacy focus and to plan a sequence of activities that will support EAL/D learners to achieve the task. A teaching program that differentiates for EAL/D learners will include the knowledge and language skills that EAL/D students need to be able to access the curriculum. Specific aims and outcomes of these units can be formulated by identifying the gaps in knowledge and skills between what students can do and the curriculum outcomes and language demands of classroom activities.

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