BIS is truly an international community within an inclusive international school. Well over 85% of our students have English as their second language and therefore have English as an Additional Language (EAL).
Students learning EAL share many common characteristics with those whose first language is English. Many of their learning needs are similar to those of other children learning in our school. However, these children also have distinct and different needs from others because they are learning content in and through an additional language (English), whilst also learning the English language. They therefore have a double the challenge than that of our English native speaking children.
We are committed to providing for our children who need support with acquiring English. As most of our learning is done in English, it is important that our children acquire the language skills so that they are able to access all aspects of their school life and are able to thrive in the school setting. Without EAL support, children will not make the same progress and we therefore see EAL as a vital part of the school curriculum.
BIS Primary has 13 highly qualified and experienced English language teachers and 4 wonderful Teaching Assistants in the EAL Department. Our aim is to ensure our EAL children are properly supported in a safe and encouraging environment; and that their class teachers are kept informed of their progress. We work very closely with our class teachers to plan our language focussed lessons which follow closely the curriculum in the mainstream class. This approach ensures students are not missing out on any part of their year group’s curriculum but are getting the language input they need to learn and participate more effectively in their mainstream classes.
When a child joins BIS who may have English as a second language, we assess them using a placement test; standardised testing; observations and language support over a 4 to 6 week period. This helps us to better understand their level of English and, more importantly, the best way we can provide the targeted support the child needs.
We provide support from F3 to Year 6 by working in the child’s mainstream class; withdrawing them in small groups; and team teaching with their mainstream class teacher. We plan our lessons on the needs of the children and the classroom curriculum. Teaching children in small groups ensures they are getting the attention and targeted support they need to make rapid progress.
Finally, at BIS we celebrate bilingualism and view it is an asset instead of a liability. The child’s first language is essential not only in learning another language but also for children’s identity formation. In addition, recent research shows bilingual children perform better academically at university levels than monolingual students. We would therefore encourage parents and carers to maintain the home language, including helping your child to read and write in their first language.
We also have a blog not just for our EAL children but for all parents wishing to support their children in their learning. You will find there are lots of ideas and activities for your child to enjoy as well as a useful Parents Zone. We hope you will find this useful.
Finally, there will be an EAL presentation at junior Campus on Friday 25th September and at Early Years Infants Campus on Friday 9th October. More details on the way.
Come and talk to us – we are here to help!
Ms Shaheena Pall, Primary EAL Leader