EAL: English as an Additional Language

EAL stands for English as an Additional Language. Other common abbreviations are EFL, English as a Foreign Language and ESL, English as a Second Language.

‘An EAL student is a student whose first language is not English. It does not refer to the stage of English these students may be on. Many EAL students speak English on a par to native speakers. The title of EAL encompasses students who are fully bilingual and all those at different stages of learning English.’ EAL students may be:

  • Newly arrived from a foreign country and school
  • Newly arrived from a foreign country, but an English-speaking school
  • Born abroad, but moved to the UK at some point before starting school or
  • Born in the UK, but in a family where the first language learned and spoken is not English.

The EAL department of Ipswich high School exists to support and develop pupils’ appreciation and knowledge of the English language and British Culture, manners and behaviour while maintaining their indebtedness to their own language and culture. The EAL department strives to enable pupils to undertake their studies in all subject areas successfully and to be prepared for further education at university.

In England, the curriculum is almost entirely delivered and assessed through the medium of English language. Therefore, language development must form a key component of a school’s curriculum, so that all pupils can both access the curriculum and successfully demonstrate what they have learnt. Successful learning should therefore translate into every pupil’s ability to articulate their knowledge and understanding appropriately, and the curriculum must take account of this fundamental need. This is particularly important for EAL pupils, as they are developing their competency in English and are therefore less likely to perform to their full potential.

Therefore, as IHS desires to provide effective and sufficiently rapid language development for EAL pupils, the school must establish an EAL department that will ensure any EAL learners falling behind or linguistically disadvantaged pupils at risk of achieving below the national average, get the support and learning development they need.

The EAL department at Ipswich High School strives to identify a student’s needs at the earliest opportunity, recognising the skills they bring to the school and ensuring equality of access to the whole curriculum. This help is a mixture of academic and pastoral and extends to all areas of school life, as these students are learning not only a second language but also how to adapt and thrive in a new culture.


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