The EAL learner

learners of English as an Additional Language

Identifying EAL learners

EAL learners come from diverse cultural, educational and linguistic backgrounds and are learning Standard Australian English (SAE) as their new or additional language at school.identifying EAL learners3

For teachers to identify EAL students, it is essential to:

  • Compile a case management profile of the student’s socio-linguistic and educational background in their first language
  • Collect a language survey, upon enrolment,  to determine student’s language and cultural needs
  • Check previous school’s data, assessment forms and Transition forms (if available) for further information
  • Use ACARA: EAL/D Learning Progression: Foundation to Year 10 document to determine EAL learner’s level of English language learning:
EAL learners and students with learning difficulties

Learning English as an additional language can take anywhere from 2 years, for Basic Interpersonal Communication skills, to 7-10 years for academic proficiency; depending on prior literacy experiences and well-being.  See Learning an additional language for more information.

Students who are learning English as an additional language are capable of learning at an age appropriate standard provided the language demands of the curriculum are explicitly taught.  EAL learning is not the same as having a learning difficulty.

To help determine if your EAL student might have a learning difficulty, it is important to gather evidence during a cycle of assessment for learning and targeted intervention in which explicit teaching of specific language needs occurs.   Further evidence to collect is provided in this guide and this list of indicators.

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  1. chrisp64

    August 5, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Thanks for the reminder Maria. See the link to the “list of indicators” that has now been added.

  2. The links in this section and the next are very helpful for compiling student management data. Will definitely be using! Thanks 🙂

  3. We are planning to give workshops to ESO’s to build their capacity in supporting EAL students along with new teachers to the school.

  4. chrisp64

    April 4, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    ‘How can I teach English to a learner who has difficulty speaking and understanding their own language?’
    This article by British Council provides some information and strategies for teaching EAL learners with speech and language difficulties.

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