The English as an Additional Language (EAL) Programme at New School, International School of Georgia is designed to ensure that all non-native speakers of English have equitable access to the academic curriculum and are included in the social aspects of school life. The aim of the programme is to support students to integrate linguistically until they no longer require help to participate fully in all academic and social activities.
EAL students receive support and specialized instruction both in and out of class, utilising a range of resources. EAL teachers teach in school small group lessons, support EAL students inside their usual classrooms and provide after school English Immersion Classes. Collaboration between the EAL teacher, advisory or classroom teacher, subject teachers, students and parents will allow for greater development of the students’ English language skills taking place in a supportive environment. English Immersion Classes are an intensive support programme that is taught at school, after the end of the regular school day.
All language learners acquire skills at different rates and with varying levels of competency across the 4 skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Often, when beginning to learn a new language (especially in an immersion model when students are acquiring EAL within the mainstream classroom), students pass through a silent period, during which language is absorbed. Halliday (1985) explains the identification of 3 aspects of language and learning development. They are learning a language, learning through language and learning about language. All can operate at any one time (taken from ‘Learning in a language other than mother tongue in IB programmes, IBO 2008’).
Learning language takes place when meaning is constructed and the student develops basic interpersonal communication skills that allow the student to interact socially. At some point, a student has enough language that they can use language for further and more complex learning. The ability to access the language of academic texts is called cognitive academic language proficiency. This is referred to as learning through language. In the final stage of language awareness, learning about language, the student demonstrates an understanding of the relationship between language and meaning, how language works and is able to make choices about language use.