English as an Additional Language (EAL)
When students enter our school, 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 from Grade 1 upwards, in addition to classroom observation and teacher collaboration across the school. We also recognise 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 in Kindergarten is built around oral language acquisition. This means that the children experience the English language through books and stories, games, flashcards, songs, play and many other non-written activities.
EAL specialists collaborate with homeroom teachers to focus on both in-class and small-group language learning. In addition, children who are in the earliest stages of English-language development have the opportunity to work with an EAL specialist outside of the homeroom.
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 Those at beginner levels are withdrawn in small groups three or four times a week for instruction in both the language and content of the curriculum.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 help them 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 although they may continue to take part in targeted, small-group sessions outside of the classroom as well. EAL specialists also collaborate with homeroom teachers to provide support for learning in areas of the curriculum such as Writer’s Workshop and Units of Inquiry.
EAL in the Secondary School
Students entering Middle School (Grades 6, 7 and 8), complete the Oxford Placement Test, which is administered online and can be done remotely. In Upper School (Grades 9 and 10), we ask students to come on site to sit the WIDA Screener. In some cases, they may also be required to do the Oxford Placement Test.
Students in need of EAL instruction and support are assigned to 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, EAL classes sit in an elective block. Additionally, the EAL team collaborates with teachers across the curriculum to support English language learning, and works in classrooms alongside students where possible.