ENGLISH AS AN ADDITIONAL LANGUAGE
English learners in Early Years have an excellent opportunity to develop English as they are still in the ‘critical period’ when they can acquire language very quickly. Consequently, English as an Additional Language (EAL) strategies in Early Years are less interventionist than with older students.
The teachers in Early Years incorporate EAL strategies into their everyday teaching. The use of singing, playing, games, and competitions, all involve repetition and the use of language patterns. The Early Years classrooms have been laid out as ‘communication-friendly spaces’. The homely environment created enhances language reception and production by lowering the students’ ‘affective filter’.
The Early Years staff are always supportive of students that may struggle in a particular area of acquiring English, usually such areas as sounds (phonics), overcoming shyness, and finding coping strategies to connect the language they already know to the new language they are learning, English.
Students joining Ascot International School in the Primary School phase may need language support to ensure a successful transition into our school. To provide this support, our EAL department utilizes both in-class (inclusion) and out-of-class support (extraction). Our inclusion support allows students to stay in their class while being provided support during lessons by one of our EAL teachers. This ensures that students are able to participate in class with their classmates while being given the individual guidance they need to be successful. Students are only extracted from class when there are specific areas that they need to develop. These students are usually supported with developing key Phonetic and/or Reading skills. Our extraction classes are usually for no longer than six weeks with an aim to integrate our students back into their classes as quickly as possible with the key skills they need to access our curriculum.
Students joining Ascot in Secondary with little or no background in English are placed into the Intensive Preparation Group (IPG) to prepare students for mainstream classes. Students in this older age group have been found to benefit from more intensive support than students entering the school in an earlier phase.
The students in the Intensive Preparation Group (IPG) study English for 20 hours a week under the guidance of two committed EAL specialists. The students also study other subjects, including Science, Maths, and PE.
Depending on their age and ability, students may remain in IPG for a number of terms until their English skills enable them to join mainstream classes.
Students need to be highly motivated to succeed in IPG due to the amount of in-class learning and out of class study they must complete.
It is important that all students entering the Secondary phase at Ascot with a lower level of English than typical for International School students attend the relevant Extra Curricular Activity session and make every effort to immerse themselves in English at home and school. This will maximise progress.