EALD (English as an Additional Language / Dialect) learners are students whose first language or dialect is not English, and who require language support to access the Australian Curriculum.
Many students speak an additional language or dialect, but do not require specialised support to access the curriculum due to their English Language Proficiency (ELP). These students are categorised as having a Language Background Other Than English (LBOTE). EALD and LBOTE students are from diverse, rich linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and contribute to making your classrooms a vibrant and interesting place to learn.
EALD students have specialised needs, as they are simultaneously:
- Learning a new language
- Learning through this new language
- Learning about language
In addition, they are learning to socialise in this new language and culture. There are many factors which will impact on how quickly they will gain proficiency in English, such as their previous educational experiences, motivation, personality, language aptitude and age on going to school.
They will require explicit instruction in the use of Standard Australian English (SAE) to successfully navigate this brave new world, learning to access the curriculum and how to be an active participant in their education. Teachers who can provide scaffolded support and guidance will be a huge support in students’ English language acquisition and academic success.
Students for whom English is an additional language form a diverse group of students. They may come from a wide variety of both language and socioeconomic backgrounds and have variance of competence in their mother tongue, ranging from the ability to understand it in familiar contexts, but not to speak it, to full fluency. Students from any of the following categories can be identified as EAL/D students:
- Students with minimal or no exposure to English, whether born overseas or in Australia to parents with language backgrounds other than English, beginning school.
- Students newly arrived in Australia who come from a language background other than English.
- Students who have had all or some of their schooling in Australia, and whose home background includes at least one language other than English.
- Students with disrupted education in one or more countries returning to Australia.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders learning English as their additional language at school.
EAL/D students are in the process of becoming bilingual or multilingual users of English. They enter the school system with language skills and cultural and cognitive abilities, bringing to the task of learning a range of linguistic and cultural resources that contribute to their English language and content learning.
EAL/D Students and our Schools
EAL/D education aims to assist students to become competent in English in order to take an effective part in mainstream social and educational activities. This can be achieved by:
- Developing students' ability to function effectively in English in a wide range of social and learning contexts at school.
- Developing students' skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing in English, and to ensure that these skills are linked to all curriculum areas.
- Facilitating students' continuing conceptual development while they have minimal use and understanding of English.
- Building on students' linguistic and cultural identities in order to foster their confidence and motivation.
- Developing learning experiences with multicultural perspectives across all curriculum areas.
EAL/D learning at school is a multifaceted process and the time it takes for an ESL student to learn English varies according to a range of factors, such as previous educational experience, motivation, personality, language aptitude and age on going to school. EAL/D learning at school involves:
- Learning in a new language and understanding a new culture.
- Learning to socialise in the new language and new culture.
- Learning to draw upon the cognitive and linguistic resources of the new learning environment.
- Learning to operate at increasing levels of cognitive and linguistic sophistication within the new language.
EAL/D learners require explicit instruction in SAE in order to successfully access the curriculum and participate actively in the learning process. EAL/D teaching supports students by adding English as an additional language to their existing language repertoire.
Planning for EAL/D Learners
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority has developed the English as an Additional Language or Dialect Teacher Resource to support teachers as they develop teaching and learning programs to teach students for whom English is an additional language or dialect. This resource has been developed to:
- Advise teachers about areas of the curriculum that EAL/D students may find challenging and why.
- Assist classroom teachers to identify where their EAL/D students are broadly positioned on a progression of English language learning.
- Help teachers understand students' cultural and linguistic diversity, and the ways this understanding can be used in the classroom.
- Provide examples of teaching strategies supportive of EAL/D students
- Direct teachers to additional relevant and useful support for teaching EAL/D students.
Documents which provide additional support for teachers when planning the learning required for EAL/D learners are described in the table.