EAL/D students are those whose first language is a language or dialect other than English and who require additional support to assist them to develop proficiency in English. EAL/D students come from diverse multilingual backgrounds and may include:
EAL/D is the educational acronym that refers to those students whose home language is a language or dialect other than Standard Australian English (SAE) and who require additional support to develop proficiency in SAE, which is the variety of spoken and written English used formally in Australian schools. The acronym EAL/D foregrounds the English language learning needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who speak an Aboriginal or Torres Strait creole, or a variety of Aboriginal English, as their home language, as well as those who speak a traditional or heritage Indigenous language; and of migrant and refugee students who speak an English-based creole, pidgin or dialect as their home language, as well as those who are learning English as a second or additional language (ESL/EAL).
It is important to consider that students with EAL/D have diverse educational backgrounds. They may have:
EAL/D students are generally placed in Australian schools at the year level appropriate for their age. Their cognitive development and life experiences may not correlate with their English language proficiency. As part of the process to personalise learning for EAL/D students the student and parent must be consulted.
Effective teaching of EAL/D students is informed by an understanding of the characteristics of EAL/D learning, including students’ learning needs and typical pathways of development. The particular challenge for EAL/D students is that they need to concurrently learn English, learn through (or in) English, and learn about English.
ACARA has developed the English as an Additional Language or Dialect Teacher Resource to support teachers as they develop personalised teaching and learning programs in the Australian Curriculum: Foundation to Year 10 with EAL/D students. The EAL/D Teacher Resource contains detailed information about EAL/D learners, specific advice about cultural and linguistic considerations, and useful teaching strategies to support the teaching of EAL/D students.
Teachers may use the EAL/D Learning Progression to identify where the student is in their English language development and what instruction is required to move them to the next stage of language development. A student may be at different stages in writing, reading, speaking and listening.
It is important to recognise that EAL/D students (and all students) bring a range of cultural and linguistic resources with them into Australian classrooms. These resources can be:
Effective teaching and learning practices are those which build on shared knowledge and understandings.
EAL/D students are bilingual learners, and they are already language learners in at least one other language. They are an important resource in developing the language awareness of all students in the classroom. The maintenance of the home language of EAL/D students is important for their English language learning as well as for the preservation and development of their cultural identities and family relationships. In addition, research indicates that bilingual speakers have significant learning advantages over monolingual speakers.
EAL/D students require specific support to learn and build on the English language skills needed to access the general curriculum, in addition to learning area–specific language structures and vocabulary. This learning must occur across the four macro skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Importantly, ‘language’ and ‘literacy’ are not the same. ‘Language knowledge’ is an important foundation skill for building competency in ‘literacy’. EAL/D students have the same capacity to understand the content of the Australian Curriculum as other students; however, they require support with the English language required both to access the curriculum and to demonstrate achievement. Therefore, it is important to identify the language requirements of tasks while still maintaining the integrity of curriculum area content.
For more detailed information please refer to the EAL/D Teacher Resource.