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Planning for EAL Success

10 October 2014

How educators seem to love initials and acronyms! Especially when, as well as adding new ones, existing ones are changed just to confuse us!

One such change that has been fully embraced is the move from English as a Second Language (ESL) to English as an Additional Language (EAL).  The former is a label which no longer fits well with our intercultural, multilingual student population whilst the latter is a term that better reflects our talented children, some of whom are fluent in several other languages before beginning to learn English.

At Regents International School Pattaya, we recognise that children learning EAL do so better in a whole school context. They learn more quickly when socialising and interacting with their peers who speak English fluently and can provide good language role models.  Regents teaching teams firmly believe that EAL learners at any level of fluency have a right of access to the National Curriculum and Early Years Foundation Stage which are the benchmark for excellence, not only for first, but additional language learning. Therefore, the withdrawal of EAL learners from a mainstream class is always for a specific purpose, time limited and linked to the work of the class. So exactly how do EAL teachers plan for pupils who come from diverse linguistic, cultural and educational backgrounds when academic attainment can only be achieved through the medium of English?

All EAL teachers attend weekly planning meetings with their mainstream colleagues to ensure a close relationship between the content of the curriculum and the specific language structures required to enable pupils’ understanding. In these meetings, teachers discuss together how to adapt materials and use additional resources to reflect the children’s cultural backgrounds. Additionally, key words needed to aid understanding and learning within a topic are identified so that EAL teachers can ‘pre-teach’ them before the children experience them within their mainstream classes. Collaborative learning through talk is also central to our ‘in-house’ style of teaching.  In this way, children at Regents listen to English being used for learning and about learning, with each teaching team ensuring that language learning remains hand in hand with academic development.