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    We provide international education to over 1,100 students ages 1-18. We are at the heart of our community, a hub for many expat families in living Beijing.

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What is EAL at The British School of Beijing, Shunyi

05 November 2013

Secondary English as an Additional Language (EAL) offers a variety of support to both students and teachers.

  • Anne Burraston

by Head of EAL, Anne Burraston

In KS3, the students have intensive EAL classes and these are streamed into two levels for Years 8 and 9. Our aim in KS3 is not only to support students in learning the social and academic English they need to survive and thrive in all situations at BSB, but to prepare them to fully integrate into the mainstream curriculum. Although we like our KS3 students very much, our greatest wish is for them to leave us and go into mainstream English classes.  We help them prepare by using both learner and authentic materials that target all the main skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. And grammar. We can’t avoid grammar in EAL. In fact, we actually really like it!

This year in KS3, we are introducing the Cambridge English Main Suite Key English Test (KET) and Preliminary English Test (PET) as our main forms of assessment. Students will receive an internationally-recognized certificate from Cambridge English giving an objective evaluation of their English level.  Our Secondary EAL team have a strong background in examinations and assessment and between us we are qualified as speaking and/or writing examiners for exams such as IELTS, KET, PET and IGCSE English as a Second Language. 

Another big change this year is in how we describe our students’ progress. The EAL department across the whole school is now using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) to identify students’ levels.  This international assessment scale is in line with the Cambridge exams and means that at each stage of their progress students are matched to a global standard. 

Once the students leave the EAL programme, they move into a specially-focused transition class that gives them more support in their new study of English literature. The EAL department and the English department work together closely to ensure all students are receiving the best level of English language or literature study for them.

In KS4, students also have intensive classes, which aim to support the students in their other subjects, but we also to prepare them to sit the IGCSE English as a Second Language exam. KS4 EAL also offers option blocks where students do more intensive work specifically on academic English. This means that some Year 10 and 11 students do up to 10 hours of EAL per week to support their overall study. We also provide academic English consultation classes for Year 12 and 13 students where requested. 

As well as intensive classes, we offer in-class support from Years 7-10. This is provided by either an EAL teacher or the EAL department teaching assistant and we work in collaboration with the subject teacher in supporting students in specific subjects. We are currently providing support in DT, chemistry, physics, history and geography. We tend to focus this option on newly-arrived students to help them better integrate into an unfamiliar English-speaking study environment. 

As a department, we liaise with subject teachers and offer strategies for individual students and we also provide general and on-going professional development in EAL strategies for all teachers. Our Secondary EAL teachers each have over 15 years’ teaching experience and are also all experienced teacher-trainers. 

Our EAL team has a wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to our students and our aim is to support our students on their learning journey and give them the skills and confidence to thrive at BSB.