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Supporting English as an Additional Language (EAL) at transition to school - Assessment for Learning - Assessment as a regular part of the teaching program

​Ongoing assessment provides information for educators and families about children’s strengths and areas where further support is needed.

Ongoing assessment is essential so that educators can understand and support children’s development, gear the program to take account of children’s level of development and provide challenges to help children progress.

Structure of assessment

There are three aspects specific to the assessment of children with English as an additional language (EAL):

  • Development across all areas of the program (curriculum)
  • Development of English
  • Development in their home language (usually with the help of Multicultural Education Aides (MEAs)).

Educators make assessments that:

  • are developmentally and culturally appropriate
  • take account of the unique cultural aspects that affect how children learn and relate to others
  • take account of the child’s bilingual background
  • consider the child’s home language oral proficiency
  • include a description of the language learning environment and take account of different contexts for learning
  • acknowledge different pathways to learning
  • involve families and family members, children and other educators.

Assessment strategies

Educators assess children’s language development throughout the year on an ongoing basis. They do this through observation and collection of evidence. They then use this information to evaluate and adapt programs to meet the language needs of the children.

There are many different ways of assessing children’s English development:

  • informal assessment and anecdotal records
  • continual monitoring and assessment
  • planned written observations
  • discussion and consultation.

Observations and anecdotal records

In early childhood services observations and anecdotal records can be made of:

  • interest in books and puzzles
  • participation in range of activities (drawing, painting, clay, water, etc.)
  • participation in dramatic and role play
  • enjoyment of stories
  • recognition of pictures and objects
  • naming objects, labelling and describing paintings, drawings
  • understanding of text
  • familiarity with routine phrases
  • concentration and listening skills
  • willingness to participate in groups
  • attempts at writing.

Assessment using jointly constructed conversations

Educators should take advantage of opportunities to engage learners in conversations that are jointly constructed and that are less reliant on contexts that specifically support learners. This helps prepare children for school where language and class structure requires children to work alone or in groups.

Children demonstrate their understanding and ability to speak in English when they:

  • interpret and respond to gestures and nonverbal language
  • repeat words and phrases
  • follow instructions
  • use contextual clues to make meaning from what they hear
  • demonstrate listening skills, including listening to other children
  • ask and answer questions
  • show independence in their choice of activities
  • seek out children to play with
  • seek out the educators
  • enjoy and participate in a wide variety of activities
  • hear and retell a short message
  • contribute to discussions
  • solve problems
  • reflect and report back
  • talk about present, past and future
  • use intonation to indicate questions
  • build on the sentences of others
  • maintain or initiate a topic of conversation
  • spontaneously retell a story
  • take turns in conversations.