EAL learners are a diverse group, and their learning needs vary. EAL learners include students:
- beginning school in Australia at any year level
- born overseas or in Australia
- beginning school with little, some or no exposure to English
- with schooling equivalent to that received by their chronological peers
- with little or no previous formal schooling in any country, or with severely interrupted education in their first language.
Students learning English as an additional language are faced with a number of challenges.
To make progress and to achieve the same level of educational success as other students they must develop literacy in English by:
- learning to speak English
- learning to read and write English
- continuing their learning in all learning areas through English, at the same time as they are learning English
- learning about the Australian school system.
They also need to develop new cultural understandings, in both the educational context and in the wider community.
All programs in which EAL learners participate need to provide optimal conditions for learning English. EAL learners in EAL Index funded schools will be learning their English through specialist EAL support programs as well as through EAL-informed classroom support.
In schools that do not receive EAL Index funding, EAL learners spend their time in mainstream classrooms, and need appropriate EAL-informed teaching. Classroom teachers must understand and be equipped to meet the educational needs of their EAL learners.
Schools should therefore consider the following:
- a whole-school approach to EAL programming and provision
- the development of a specialist EAL program
- the ways in which EAL needs in mainstream classrooms are met
- the professional learning needs of staff
- how the Victorian Curriculum F-10 English as an Additional Language can inform teaching in all curriculum areas.
Reviewed 05 May 2021