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The EAL program at the International School Aberdeen is provided for students in Kindergarten through High School who have English as an Additional Language (EAL). This is to enable them to be successful in the academic programme of the grade level classroom. EAL teachers work with classroom teachers to help children develop English language skills and learning strategies. They also promote cultural awareness and help students integrate in the social life of the school.

EAL Philosophy

At ISA, we believe that a sheltered immersion model is the best way to promote English acquisition. The methodology used to support EAL students is based on a collaborative approach with mainstream teachers. EAL and mainstream teachers work together to provide language instruction and content support in order to ensure that students are able to access the school curriculum, while at the same time developing their English skills.The curriculum is designed to meet the needs of individual students at each stage of their development. The four skills of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking are practised through topics and themes related to the mainstream curriculum, while grammar and vocabulary are taught in context.

EAL Classes

EAL is not a language class like French or Spanish. Every class your child attends is also an English class and that is where they do most of their language learning. EAL supports that learning. When students arrive with little or no English, the EAL teachers will teach them the social language that they will need to make friends and the survival language to ask for what they need. We endeavour to help them become familiar with the names of classroom objects and instructions, use the cafeteria and generally feel comfortable around school. Secondly, EAL aims to help students to acquire the academic language of the different subject areas so that they can participate in the reading, writing, listening and speaking activities in class, and complete their homework assignments. EAL groups are small so that the students relax and feel comfortable to try out new language, share fears and anxieties and ask questions about the new culture they are living in.


The aim of the English as an Additional Language (EAL) department is to support limited English proficient students by fostering “a safe, caring learning environment where students are challenged to attain their maximum potential and become contributing members of the global community”, as stated in the ISA Mission Statement. The programme is built upon current thinking about language acquisition and the implications of those principles for teaching and learning.

MS EAL is provided to any student who does not have English as his or her native language and whose competency in English does not yet meet grade level expectations. In order for the student to function successfully in the academic programme and social life of the school, support is offered to assist in the acquisition of the language skills needed to access the ISA mainstream curriculum.

The EAL curriculum takes into account the many variables affecting a student’s English skills. Flexibility is essential due to diverse student backgrounds and unpredictable admission dates. The amount and composition of support is determined by a student’s grade, level of ability, and the requirements of the mainstream curriculum at that grade. For a student at beginner level, the focus is on developing basic English competence; however, as the student progresses, the focus of support concentrates more on supporting the student’s work in mainstream classes.

The methodology used to support EAL students is based on a collaborative approach with mainstream teachers. The curriculum is designed to meet the needs of individual students at each stage of their development. The topics of reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary are taught in context through themes related to the mainstream curriculum when possible. We also believe in open communication with parents in order to inform them about the nature of additional language learning and ways in which they can best support their children.

Levels of EAL support

Language learning is a very individual process and varies considerable from child to child. EAL support is targeted at individual needs, so activities to promote language learning can vary greatly. Your child might receive EAL support in one or more of the following ways:

  • Intensive support: When students arrive with little or no English, they are given a series of intensive EAL sessions to provide them with ‘basic school vocabulary’ and to help them understand and access all areas of school life.

  • EAL class: Students received specialised language instruction with the EAL teacher in the EAL classroom. Focus is on the skill areas of writing, reading, speaking and listening. Often grade level classroom topics are used as a vehicle for teaching these skills.

  • In-class support: The EAL teacher supports in-class learning by assisting students in their grade level classrooms. Work may or may not be modified for the EAL student.

  • Immersion: All EAL students attend regular age appropriate grade level classes and receive EAL support from their classroom teacher. Classroom activities may be modified for EAL students.

How will my child be assessed?

Your child will be assessed on an individual basis by looking at EAL work, work they do in the classroom, and by plotting them on the EAL continuums of reading, writing, listening and speaking. This is done in collaboration with their classroom teachers. Your child’s EAL teacher will share this information with you twice a year at parent conferences.

How long will my child have EAL support?

Generally students will have EAL support until EAL and classroom work indicate that they are meeting grade level expectations independently. This decision is taken jointly by the classroom teacher, the EAL teacher, the parents and the child.

Please see our leaflet Stages of Language Learning for more information.

Importance of Home Language

“It is now generally accepted that the better a child’s roots are in his or her Mother Tongue (Home Language), the better the performance in further languages being learnt.”

Maurice Carder, 1993

ISA encourages all students who have English as an additional language to maintain their home language and not to replace it with English. ISA is a multicultural and multilingual community with a dynamic population and it promotes internationalism, striving to preserve the cultural identity of students, thus strengthening their connection to family and home country. The mother tongue is part of a child’s cultural heritage. Families at ISA are encouraged to use their mother tongue at home to discuss home and school matters, engage in conversations about concepts learned in school, read and write and attend mother tongue classes when possible..

For more information about Mother Tongue, please see our leaflet The Importance of Home Language.


EAL Elementary - Clare Taylor ctaylor@isa.aberdeen.sch.uk

EAL Middle/High School - Cristi Sanz csanz@isa.aberdeen.sch.uk

EAL Information

EAL - What Is EAL Support?Download
EAL - Stages Of Language LearningDownload
EAL - The Importance Of Home LanguageDownload

Accredited by

International Baccalaureate Council of International Schools Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Cambridge International Examinations CNED