English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Naomi Flynn, Chris Pim and Sarah Coles| View as single page| Comment/Feedback

Planning and assessment of EAL learners

Guidance on planning learning opportunities for your EAL learners is given throughout other sections in the guide. Guidance for assessing your pupils starts with understanding the Stages of Additional Language Learning. In England currently there is no standardised system for assessing EAL learners, but you will find standardised systems in place in other countries.

Many learners of EAL will be working towards age related expectations for a significant proportion of their schooling and therefore the use of an EAL-specific assessment tool or framework is essential in establishing a baseline and for tracking progress over time.  If used consistently, it can ensure practitioners develop their understanding of what their learners of EAL can do in English, highlight what the next steps should be and make sure this informs planning and resourcing for mainstream teaching and learning activities across the curriculum. Tracking progress over time can provide practitioners with reassuring evidence that the progress of most of their learners of EAL is in line with expected trajectories and within normal parameters for EAL development.  For a much smaller percentage of their EAL cohorts, it can also indicate where there may be problems that merit further investigation eg potential special educational needs such as speech and language difficulties.   

The following are published frameworks for assessing your pupils and target setting next steps for language and literacy learning in English: The CLPE Stages of Language Acquisition (Hilary Hester, 1990) https://clpe.org.uk/library-and-resources/useful-resources/stages-english-learning; The NASSEA EAL assessment system is well regarded among EAL specialist practitioners in England and can be purchased from http://www.nassea.org.uk/eal-assessment-framework/; Marking Progress - Training materials for assessing EAL by QCA (2000) is a useful document for all aspects of additional language acquisition including identifying stages of learning  http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/5743/1/markingprogress.pdf; The Bell Foundation EAL Assessment framework first published in 2016 – has separate primary and secondary descriptors and is free to download.

Original guide sponsored by the University of Winchester, this revision sponsored by The University of Reading and Hampshire EMTAS.