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Supporting English as an Additional Language (EAL) at transition to school - Assessment for Learning - Stages of development – early years

The EAL stages described below allow early childhood educators to describe children’s progress in terms of the stages of development reached. This helps describe what children can do and say, both in grammatical terms and in their ability to communicate and take an active part in the program.

Stage 1 – New to English

Stage 2 – Becoming familiar with English

Stage 3 – Becoming confident as a user of English

Stage 4 – Demonstrated competency as a user of English

Further information: Supporting Children Learning English as a Second Language in the early years (birth to six years), see page 17.

Using the EAL standards in schools

Teachers in schools plan, assess and report using the EAL Companion to the AusVELS framework and the EAL Developmental Continuum. Lower primary EAL learners are assessed against the A1 and A2 stages of the EAL Developmental Continuum Lower Primary Year P–2.

The EAL standards describe the stages preceding the English standards for students learning English.

When the learning of EAL students starts to approximate the levels of the English standards of their peers, the English standards should be used instead of the EAL standards. However, students are still likely to require EAL support after they have progressed to the English standards.

The information in the EAL standards will therefore continue to be relevant in the development of programs for students with an EAL background, and for the assessment of their progress.

Further information: The EAL Handbook has advice to schools on programs for supporting students learning English as an Additional Language

Comparing EAL standards

An example of the comparison of EAL stages for listening and speaking is provided in the Comparison of stages of EAL learning – the preschool child and the primary school child.
For a description of the stages of the EAL Developmental Continuum Lower Primary Year P–2 read the Stages of English as an Additional Language Development in the early years.

Time to progress

EAL students are likely to take around five to seven years to learn English for academic purposes to the same level as students who have been learning English all their lives, though this varies according to individual differences.