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Student Number 20124192

Student Name Elizabeth Tait

Unit Code EDUC5204

Unit Title English for Diverse Students

Assignment one

Unit Lecturer Penny James Date Received

Unit Tutor Penny James

Due Date 27.03.20

Word Count


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Catering for EAL/D students’ language needs in mainstream classes

Australia is a culturally and linguistically diverse place, comprising of people

from over two thousand different ethnic backgrounds, which means that many

different languages are spoken in communities and homes across the country

(Primary English Teaching Association Australia, 2020). Due to their home

backgrounds, many students arrive at school with vastly different levels of

vocabulary and approximately one in four students in Australian schools are learning

English as a second language or additional language or dialect (EAL/D). These

students come from diverse backgrounds and can include children born within

Australia, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander students, refugees,

international students, and migrants (Primary English Teaching Association

Australia, 2020). These diverse backgrounds mean that each student has varying

knowledge of the English language, such as learning English as a foreign language

in their country of origin, or some experiences leading them to be in their current

status may have had a psychological, emotional and/or physical trauma causing

negative impacts on their learning in Australian schools (Primary English Teaching

Association Australia, 2020). Therefore, it is important that teachers are familiar with

AITSL standard 1, know your students and how they learn, and understand the

cultural and linguistic backgrounds of their students.

Language learning is a process that is developmental and happens in stages

over time. It involves the understanding of a complex communication system that is

comprised of the interconnecting language elements of social usage,

communicating, vocabulary, organisations, meaning, and word and sound

formations. The entire skill set of such linguistic elements is used almost

automatically or naturally for fluent speakers of a language, as it is so ingrained in

their cultural practice. EAL/D students will need to be taught the intonation,

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Catering for EAL/D students’ language needs in mainstream classes

expressions and grammatical structures specific to the English language used in

Australia currently, so for teachers to determine a starting point with their EAL/D

students they must understand their student’s English proficiency level (ACARA,

2014). Once their proficiency level has been determined, teachers are able to build

on these using the EAL/D learning progressions provided for by the Australian


Once teachers have determined where students are located on a typical

English language learning progression, they are able to identify where explicit

teaching is necessary as well as determine the amount of supported required for the

students to access the curriculum of specific learning areas. Formative and

summative assessments are elements of diagnostic assessment that are crucial to

understanding a student’s knowledge of the language modes, speaking, reading or

viewing, listening, and writing, as well as their mastery of the academic language

used in each learning area (ACARA, 2014).

There are specific support EAL/D students require to learn and build upon

their currently English language skills necessary for them to access the general

curriculum of mainstream classes. Teachers are required to create strong

foundational understanding of key English language features for their EAL/D

students such as oral language development, difference in ways texts are

constructed, how cohesion is created within texts, features of sentence structure in

English, and different between languages and writing systems, as these features

may create a challenging environment that may affect their learning (ACARA, 2014).

Learning is accessed through English and achievement is demonstrated through the

English language in Australian schools, as the primary language for Australia is

English (ACARA, 2014). Therefore, each curriculum area has vocabulary and

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Catering for EAL/D students’ language needs in mainstream classes

language structure’s particular to its learning domain, which are best taught by the

responsible learning area teacher in the context in which they are used. The literacy

and language demands of each subject is unique to their learning area; therefore, it

is the responsibility of each teacher to assist EAL/D students to build the language

skills necessary to access particular areas of the curriculum (ACARA, 2014).

In their article Dobinson & Buchori (2016) publicised some relevant opinions

on the issues present within mainstream classrooms and teaching methods that

exclude EAL/D students from reaching their full potential, academically and socially.

Within schools today teachers are under the impression that although Australia is a

multicultural and multilingual in nature, that the responsibility for learning English as

new language is on the students themselves or an English as a second language

specialist. This monolingual attitude towards teaching suggests that mainstream

teachers will have less than constructive experiences when attempting to manage

students from diverse language backgrounds, as they may become overwhelmed

with the extra workload that EAL/D students may bring or they may feel

professionally inadequate to instruct students in a major that was not their main

learning area. As there is a lack of understanding on how to meet the language

learning needs of students within their classrooms, a creation of inequities in

educational opportunities for all students within the class arises. Coleman (2010)

stated teachers “configured or positioned themselves as teachers of content. In this

way they were able to place the responsibility for meeting their refugee English

language learners, language needs outside the realm of their own pedagogical

practices in their mainstream classes”, as the teacher misconception of how second

languages are learned occur, there is a perceived ‘lack of time’ for these students

and their unique needs within class time.

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Catering for EAL/D students’ language needs in mainstream classes

Dobinson & Buchori (2016) highlighted the issue that Australian literacy

education in Australia is monolingual in orientation due to a lack of teacher education

in working with EAL/D students within mainstream classrooms. Although a student’s

home language is acknowledged as an influence on the learning of additional

language, mainstream teachers are seldom educated on how to use their students

home language as a resource for teaching additional language development.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

clarified that all teachers need to adapt their pedagogy to meet the language learning

needs of the students within their classroom whose first language is not English even

if they do not have formal language teacher education (Alford & Windeyer, 2014). As

mainstream teachers are often not equipped to handle the language needs of EAL/D

students, it has raised questions as to whether there will be implementation of

courses for pre-service teachers to undertake throughout their university degrees to

equip them with techniques and the ability to handle the learning needs of these

students. As Australia is a multicultural society, where many students are from home

where English is not their primary language, pre-service teachers and mainstream

teachers need guidance and support on how to implement additional language

development within their classrooms to promote a multilingual learning environment.

Students need to be provided with opportunities for language acquisition

within a classroom, through implicit as well as explicit teaching. Such opportunities

can be provided in the inclusion of group work, where the students are able to grasp

a greater understanding of the English language in a more relaxed social setting

from their peers. If a mainstream teacher were to separate EAL/D students from their

peers into a separate group during group activities it would hinder not help their

education, as the students would not be immersed in the different linguistic abilities

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Catering for EAL/D students’ language needs in mainstream classes

of the other students. Many teachers however do not think of this when they

separate the EAL/D learners from the other students when performing group work,

as they believe they have the time to break the information down for the students or

tailor the curriculum to their needs rather than considering if the student can cope

within a mixed peer group (Dobinson & Buchori, 2016). Hannan (2009) argued that

EAL/D students should not have a differentiated educational program , rather that

they be included in the entire school community, especially in cooperative learning

activities, as the interactions between peers is extremely beneficial to all of the

students involved.

Through the incorporation of activities instead of pre-made worksheets within

multilingual classrooms, teachers are able to provide an interactive learning

environment that acknowledges the diverse ways of learning and acquiring

knowledge. Through the adaption of teaching methods greater opportunities for

group problem solving and cooperative learning activities arise, allowing for student

awareness of diversity looks like within a classroom. This learning environment

enables teachers to demonstrate how to perform a task or use the materials or

resources they have provides before allowing students to participate using their skills

and knowledge (Dobinson & Buchori, 2016). All students, including EAL/D students,

have access to cultural resources that may give them alternative perspectives on

issues or ideas raised in class, as well as their experience and knowledge. By

creating a collaborative environment for the students to work in, teachers are able to

access these different perspectives from all students and expand the student’s

perception of certain topics within the class. This integration of cultural differences

within the classroom enables students to tap into their own unique and valuable

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Catering for EAL/D students’ language needs in mainstream classes

experiences and share them with their peers, which creates a culturally diverse

environment within the classroom (ACARA, 2014).

Current policies and ways of thinking within Australia favour the ‘English-only’

approach to teaching EAL/D students, meaning that students need to speak English

within the classroom every chance they can. These policies undermine the research

that indicated that EAL/D students will thrive within a linguistically diverse

environment, where greetings from different countries, multilingual posters, bilingual

wall displays, and translation exercises are incorporated within the classroom

(Dobinson & Buchori, 2016). Through small interactions, such as asking a student

how to say the name of a colour in their first language after the teacher has

explained the name in English, can enhance the student’s understanding of the

meaning behind the word they are taught as well as allowing an image and

correlating word to be known to them.

Both articles (ACARA, 2014 and Dobinson & Buchori, 2016) outline teaching

practices that teachers can implement within their classrooms to enhance the

learning opportunities of EAL/D students. These articles give a general rudimentary

guideline for teachers to implement within their learning environments to enable

students to participate within their mainstream classes while receiving additional

assistance from an English language specialist. As access to language specialist is

not universal for all schools, further discussion into equipping pre-service teachers

with the knowledge base on EAL/D learners within their classrooms and language

specific tactics is required. Dobinson & Buchori (2016) raised the issue that many

teachers feel ill equipped or anxious to teach language learning for students who

speak a minority language as they had not been specifically shown how to. In order

for pre-service teachers and new teachers to not feel overwhelmed or anxious at the

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Catering for EAL/D students’ language needs in mainstream classes

concept of teacher additional language concepts within their mainstream classes,

they need to be prepared with strategies they have learnt in a university course or on

practicum experiences. As each student unique and their learning needs do not fit a

particular mould, pre-service teachers and new teachers need to be exposed to

many techniques of language acquisition before starting their careers. This repertoire

of strategies to deal effectively with EAL/D students’ needs may decrease their

workload when working in a multilingual classroom and allow them to streamline the

process more successfully.

Elizabeth Tait 20124192

Catering for EAL/D students’ language needs in mainstream classes


Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2014).

English as an additional language or dialect teacher resource. Retrieved from:


sed_Fe bruary_2014.pdf

Alford, J., & Windeyer, A. (2014). Responding to national curriculum goals for

English language learners: Enhancing reading strategies in high school

content areas. Journal of Immersion and Content-Based Language

Education, 2(1), 74-96. http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/jicb.2.1.04alf

Coleman, J. (2010). A case study of the responses of two mainstream primary

teachers in a non-metropolitan area to the refugee English Language

Learners in their classes. PhD Thesis. Australian Catholic University.

Retrieved from http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au/digitaltheses/public/adt-


Dobinson, T., & Buchori, S. (2016). Catering for EAL/D students’ language needs in

mainstream classes: early childhood teachers’ perspective and practices in

one Australian setting. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 41(2), 32-52.

Hannan, M. (2009). Righting wrongs and writing rights into language policy in

Australia. Tamara Journal, 8(2), 245-257.

Teaching EAL/D learners in Australian Classrooms. (2020). Primary English

Teaching Association Australia. Retrieved from:



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