What are some of the best practices for setting up an EAL program at your school? Here are a few of the basics that should be in place to ensure that learners are receiving the best possible support.
Academic vs Conversational English
The first thing that must be acknowledged is that there is a difference between academic and conversational English. This means that any EAL assessments given to determine whether a student will require support must not only factor in their conversational abilities but also their language abilities in all subject areas – math, science, social studies, etc., to ensure that some aren’t slipping through the cracks because they appear to be conversationally fluent. This also means ensuring that your program adequately supports both types of language acquisition.
For an EAL program to be successful, a school-wide approach that includes specialist teachers must be taken. Even if your EAL team isn’t large enough to offer in-class support during specialist classes, you should give thought to providing specialist teachers with some form of EAL training themselves so they are aware of their learners’ needs and can provide them with differentiated and/or scaffolded materials as necessary.
When looking at how language is being taught across the entire school, it is helpful to establish a similar approach across the board, inclusive of specialist classes. This will make it easier for your EAL team to develop strategies that match and support classroom learning. Extending beyond classroom learning, this consistency at school will assist EAL teachers in communicating with parents about how language learning takes place in class and in providing them with tools to help their child(ren) at home.
Collaborative Planning Tools
For your EAL team to offer the best support for students, they need to be able to access the curriculum in advance so that they can prepare the necessary resources. This means creating collaborative planning tools that will allow mainstream (and specialists if you choose to include them) to easily share upcoming outcomes and learning activities with your EAL team.
Wondering how you might be able to implement some of the above-mentioned best practices when it comes to EAL at your school? Not to worry! We have developed a presentation that can be used as a guide in determining the best path forward and that covers the following:
Feel free to use any parts of the slides as needed!
Feeling like you might some extra guidance? Contact us; we are happy to help!