English as an Additional Language (EAL)
When students enter our school at any age, we assess their language capabilities and, where necessary, our teachers and our EAL specialists work in collaboration to formulate a plan for student success. We use the WIDA MODEL standardised assessments to annually track progress in English language proficiency, while also recognising that each student is on their own learning journey. As such, there are multiple factors that can influence their speed of language acquisition and skills development. When students reach a certain level of proficiency, they exit the program and are typically monitored for a year to continue tracking progress. We also work with the Learning Enrichment Team where there may be overlap in a student’s needs.
EAL in the Early Years
The program offered to the children in the Mixed Kindergarten is built around oral language acquisition. That means that the children experience the language through books, games, flashcards, and many other non-written activities.
The program offered to the children in Senior Kindergarten begins with oral language acquisition then moves on to Unit of Inquiry-related vocabulary and language structures. In the beginning, the children experience the language through books, games and flashcards. Later, they move on to more challenging activities which include simple written activities, word building, and even reading out loud (depending on the child’s individual ability).
EAL in the Primary School
Students at all levels of English language proficiency enter the Primary School from Grade 1 to 5. Those at beginner levels are withdrawn in small groups three or four times a week for instruction in both the language and content of the curriculum. Very early-stage learners may also receive some 1:1 instruction, to enable them to build the vocabulary needed for daily life at school.
When students reach intermediate levels of proficiency, we aim to work with them more in the mainstream classroom. Through co-planning sessions, we collaborate with homeroom teachers to provide co-teaching and general support for learning in areas of the curriculum such as Writer’s Workshop and Units of Inquiry.
EAL in the Secondary School
Students entering the secondary school are assessed using ISHR’s entrance tests in English and/or EAL, depending on the type of schooling they have previously experienced. In Middle School (Grades 6, 7 and 8), we ask applicants to do the Oxford Placement Test, which can be administered remotely online. In Upper School (Grades 9 and 10), we ask students to come on site to sit the WIDA Screener. If this is not possible, we ask for the Oxford Placement Test and will run the Screener as soon as possible after arrival.
Students in need of EAL instruction and support are assigned to small grade-level classes three times a week. In Middle School, these lessons happen at the same time as French or Spanish. In the Upper School, the classes sit in an elective block. Additionally, the EAL team collaborates with teachers across the curriculum in support of English language learning, and works in classrooms alongside students wherever possible.