The EAL learner

learners of English as an Additional Language

New Arrival EAL learners

Who are New Arrival – Beginning EAL learners?

New Arrival learners are EAL students who have recently arrived in Australia from another country and who speak a language/s other than English at home. They may be refugees, asylum seekers or  migrants.

New Arrival learners in our schools come from a range of linguistic, religious and cultural backgrounds. They may:

  • have had previous schooling in their home country or in other countries before arriving in Australia
  • have had some experience with learning written English, but need to develop oral English for both social and academic contexts
  • have had no or little previous schooling experience, or interrupted schooling
  • have excellent literacy skills in their first language (or another language/ dialect)
  • have limited written literacy skills in their first language
  • be experiencing ‘culture shock’ which may include feelings of loss, grief and isolation
  • be experiencing trauma 
What is the ‘silent period’?

Sometimes, when students first encounter a dominant English speaking environment, e.g. school, they experience a silent period’. This may last from a few days to months. During this time, students are listening, watching and learning about their new environment. They are working on making sense of what’s happening around them, acquiring receptive language day by day through the interactions of those around them. Students who are in this ‘silent’ period should not be forced to speak. To best support them, teachers can create opportunities for students to participate in class activities, demonstrating understanding through the use of visual, practical and physical means.

CESA Funding support for EAL New Arrivals

New arrival students often require informed EAL intervention for acceleration of English language learning of at least 2 levels per year.  CESA provides co-responsibility funding to assist with the initial cost of ensuring that EAL learners who have recently arrived in Australia receive intensive English language learning support that will enable them to develop their English language skills for successful participation in learning with their peers in mainstream classes.  This funding will be available for students who meet the eligibility criteria and on provision of a documented intensive English language learning program.  The application form outlines the purpose, outcomes, eligibility criteria, and accountability.

Should you require advice or support to assess and develop an intensive English language learning program for a newly enrolled EAL student, contact the EAL team –  phone 83016613.

For further information about New Arrival learners, please proceed to these links:

Department for Education Intensive English Language Centres and New Arrivals Programs

Upon arrival (within 12-18 months) in Australia, it is recommended that new arrival students attend a DepEd Intensive English Language Centre or New Arrivals Program before  attending a Catholic Education SA (CESA) school.   These programs help students by providing:

  • intensive English language support in smaller classes from specialist teachers of English as an Additional Language
  • a modified curriculum for school aged children
  • a variety of activities within the school and local community, including excursions and social events
  • bilingual classroom support

For more information, please refer to Intensive English Language and New Arrival Program Centres  for a list of Centre locations and information brochures translated in a range of languages.

Use of interpreters

See Support agencies 

Bilingual dictionaries

Bilingual dictionaries can be hard copy or online and can be useful for learners who can already decode.

 Kids.Wordsmyth provides topic related words with pronunciation, definitions and images.  

Picture Dictionary is designed for newly arrived EAL learners to use at school and at home to support their English language acquisition. It enables users to see and hear commonly used words with an Australian pronunciation. It may be used on a desktop computer or mobile device. 

Resources for Schools

ACARA EAL/D resources  for advice, English language learning progressions, teaching strategies.

CESA New Arrivals resources for downloading – programming templates, information, strategies.

Help! What do I do with a Primary new arrival?help na

book with practical strategies for classroom teachers

Catholic Education Office, Sydney: online Bookshop


Teaching English Language Learners in Mainstream Classesteaching english language learners in mainstream classes


by Margery Hertzberg (PETAA publication)


Learning to Learn in a Second LanguageL2Lin2ndlang

by Pauline Gibbons (PETAA publication)


Getting Started with English Language Learnershaynes
By Judie Haynes  (ASCD publication)


NO ENGLISH, Don’t panic  A handbook for teachers of English as an additional language learners in their first few weeks at school in Australia.   pdf Victoria DEECD

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  1. ‘What multilingual learners’ say is a summary of doctoral research about new arrival students’ perceptions of what it is like to be an EAL learner.

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