The EAL learner

learners of English as an Additional Language

EAL pedagogy

Culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy for EAL learners

A culturally and linguistically responsive pedagogy enables learners to authentically draw on their own language and experiences whilst systematically and purposefully building English language skills that enable EAL learners to successfully access the curriculum content appropriate to their year level.

Scaffolding  strategies    TLC diagram

Scaffolding is temporary support that assists a learner to gain control of new language and concepts.   It can be ‘designed in’  to the scope and sequence of learning tasks, using a Teaching Learning Cycle; and during ‘point of need’ teacher-student interactions that are part of those tasks, such as recasting and elaborating student contributions, making links to prior learning and experience, building prior knowledge, detailed reading and strategies such as dictogloss.  

Scaffolding enables teachers to maintain high expectations and is utilised contingently with the aim of ‘handover’ towards learners being able to independently use and transfer understandings and skills to new tasks in new learning contexts.

The 22 min video below, presented by Professor Beverly Derewianka,  provides an overview of recent developments in the Teaching Learning cycle.

Explicit teaching  about how language works

Throughout the Teaching and Learning Cycle and within the context of the topic or text, learners are taught about the structure and functions of specific language features whole text, sentence and word level.  For example, how texts are structured to achieve a purpose such as persuading, how to express cause and effect, word order in noun groups and the sounds of English.  In doing so, a metalanguage (shared language for talking about language) is developed.  Visit the How language works page for more information.

Teaching language in context

Depending on purpose and context, language is used in different ways . Each curriculum area expresses the content with specific language and types of texts; therefore, language learning is most meaningful and effective within its context of specific curriculum content and focus texts.

The resource EAL Effective Practice Interactive Guide, produced by the Victorian Department of Education and Training, features a series of literacy based video case studies and resources about teaching the language and literacy of Maths and Science.

Task design and assessment

Teaching and learning is most effective when we establish what learners already know and can do and build upon that.   EAL learners are capable of learning but do not currently possess sufficient English language to fully access the curriculum. Therefore, when designing learning tasks for EAL learners it is important to:

  1. Identify the cultural knowledge and specific language required by the task – in both receptive and productive language
  2. Based on assessment, identify current language proficiency and cultural understandings, and what their learning needs are.
  3. Determine acceptable evidence of learning. Adjustments may need to be made to ensure learners are able to demonstrate their learning about the concepts and content in ways that take into consideration their current level of English
  4. Explicitly teach the required language and cultural knowledge.

See the AITSL illustrations of practice:  Planning for EAL learners   and the ACARA Illustrations of Practice for EALD Learners

Practice, preparation and revision

EAL students need multiple opportunities to use language, particularly spoken language and topic related vocabulary.  They benefit from collaborative opportunities to plan, practise and receive feedback on their use of language; strategies such as think, pair, share and  draw, speak and then write support this.

See the ACARA  EALD Overview and Advice for further strategies and the Illustrations of Practice for EAL/D Learners.
Illustrations of practice

EAL learners in the mainstream PREZI can be used to give an overview of the key pedagogies, ACARA documents and differentiation.

Reading to Learn is a pedagogical approach designed to enable all learners at all levels of education to read and write successfully, at levels appropriate to their age, grade and area of study.   Contact the EAL team for more information about this approach and related scaffolding strategies.

This article reports on a Culturally responsive pedagogies project that enabled students to authentically draw on their own real-world experiences whilst animating the curriculum.

Using multilingual approaches: moving from theory to practice is a resource book of strategies, activities and projects for multilingual classrooms.  It can read online or downloaded as a pdf.


Please share your experiences.

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  1. chrisp64

    April 14, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    This 4 minute YouTube called What is scaffolding for EAL learners? contains a collection of strategies for supporting EAL learners

  2. chrisp64

    May 1, 2020 at 11:40 am

    The bell foundation in the UK also have a brief description of Dictogloss

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