The EAL philosophy
Our EAL department strives to provide the social and academic English skills necessary to empower our students to participate in the mainstream classroom and integrate with our community.
Upon admission, EAL learners’ baseline proficiency is identified according to Alberta K–12 ESL Proficiency Benchmarks where a scale of Level 1 (Beginning) to Level 5 (Extending) is used to depict students’ linguistic competency. As a result, students are placed in a programme designed to support and nurture their access to the curriculum of the school, develop communication and interaction skills, and to acquire strategies for learning in all subject areas.
The EAL programme
The format of the program is a combination of pull-out and push-in instruction:
Pull-out: Children are pulled-out of the homeroom class to attend lessons with the EAL teacher on a scheduled basis to target specific language goals. This small-classroom situation provides a safe learning environment for students to practice speaking skills, ask questions and received individualized instruction.
Push-in: The EAL instruction pushes in to the homeroom class and provides support in the context of the content that is being studied in the homeroom environment. The homeroom teacher and EAL instructor work actively together to plan and strategize the support.
The duration of the programme
EAL teachers continually monitor the students’ progress in consultation with the class teacher. When a student has reached a standard that could be considered competent for their grade level, they graduate from the EAL Programme. Their progress in the mainstream classroom is monitored and further EAL support will always be available if required.
The length of time required to learn a new language to a level where one can use it competently varies according to a number of factors. Children may acquire basic communicative language skills and appear quite fluent in a relatively short period of time, but it usually takes longer before they are able to acquire deeper understandings and master the complexities of more “academic” language.
EAL Support in Primary School
Primary School includes English Language Learners from Years 1 – 5. The goal of EAL classes in these years is to increase proficiency across all English language skills. EAL Teachers collaborate with classroom teachers, staff and parents to ensure that students are receiving the support needed to grow emotionally, socially and academically. The language support provided to our students is tailored to fit the individual needs, interests and abilities of each student. Young learners often make great progress due to their age and ability to quickly learn an additional language, which assists them to more easily achieve the IPC Learning Goals and Targets of the relevant year level.
EAL Support in Middle School
Middle School includes students from Years 6 – 9. In these years, EAL support is designed to help students who need extra support in developing the English language skills required to achieve content literacy.
As EAL learners in the upper years need to feel included both inside and outside their classrooms, the support programme seeks to assist the learners in a more personalized small group learning environment within the mainstream classroom. In addition, Level 1 and 2 learners will be withdrawn to receive support outside the mainstream classroom. Upon being identified as an EAL learner, students receive support with the following:
Ultimately, the aim is to support each student to achieve the IPC and IMYC Learning Goals and Targets for their year level in an environment that is by nature both nurturing and supportive.
As we are strong believers that language acquisition does not end in the classroom we encourage parents to provide a range of English language opportunities outside school to practice the language. It is advisable to encourage your child to meet with friends with whom they can speak English, and to watch TV as well as use the internet in English. Needless to say, reading English literature as well as literature in your mother tongue on a regular basis is highly recommended.
As well as providing your child with opportunities to speak English outside of school, we cannot stress enough the importance of your child maintaining proficiency (an age-appropriate vocabulary as well as literacy) in their mother tongue. Skills learned in the mother tongue (including reading comprehension strategies such as the ability to make a guess about unknown words based on their context) are transferred to any subsequent languages learned. Furthermore, your child will learn both the content taught at school as well as English better and faster if you discuss IPC or IMYC topics at home in your mother tongue. This will give them the background knowledge needed to be better able to follow along during the lessons and to pick up English more quickly.
You can help your child’s schooling by continuing to help your child develop your mother tongue. Here are some ideas for how to help at home:
continue to have your child read in your mother tongue, or read to your child in your mother tongue
discuss (in your mother tongue) the books with your children, including summarizing the book, describing how else it could have ended, why a character did something. Ask your child, “Would you have done that, too?” etc.
look up information about your child’s IPC or IMYC topic in your mother tongue, discuss the topic in your mother tongue
visit museums and discuss exhibits in your mother tongue