Learning and beyond > English as an Additional Language

English as an Additional Language

The English as an Additional Language (EAL) department supports students whose first language is not English to acquire the level of linguistic competence necessary to succeed in the mainstream classroom.  New students who may need EAL support are tested when first joining ISD.

We believe that all additional language students whose language level is insufficient to cope with a full curriculum in English should be offered EAL classes or in-class support appropriate to their age and level to enable them to perform effectively in the mainstream as rapidly as possible. We believe that the most efficient way to achieve this is by immersing the students in an authentic language environment which is comprehensible, yet challenging, where specific language is targeted for instruction, where acquired language is used in meaningful tasks, and where an attempt is made to mirror grade level content and teaching styles.

We believe that language is essential to most human activities. It is the principal means by which we experience, create and interpret the changing world in which we live. It is the way we think and communicate.

We believe language acquisition grows incrementally through a constant and natural interaction of the four modes: listening, speaking, reading and writing.  The language curriculum recognizes and respects the varied interests, abilities, needs and diverse cultural backgrounds of our students. It presents a progressive course of study, which gives insight into structures and functions of the language and emphasizes communication.

Finally we believe that each student should be challenged through the implementation of a variety of instructional methods and strategies in a positive environment, conducive to further learning. It is our conviction that this approach will foster an atmosphere of tolerance and respect for the ideas of others and increase the individual’s awareness of self-identity.

Language Acquisition in Preparatory Classes

In Preparatory classes children learn and continually practise English through play, hands-on activities and classroom experiences. Additional language support is given through repetition, teaching key vocabulary words and consistent modelling of good English. At this age language development is most important; both in English as well as the language spoken at home.

We recognize students’ mother tongue and encourage its use through joint construction of meanings with children of the same mother tongue and the support of parents in activities such as story-telling in the home language in school.

Language acquisition is one of the most important aspects of learning at this developmental stage.

EAL in the Elementary School, a pull-out and push-in programme

At ISD we believe that all teachers are language teachers.
The students who are learning English as an additional language are supported by their classroom teachers, the EAL specialists and grade level support teachers. Their language acquisition is closely monitored at all stages of learning.

The pull-out programme for beginners
In the elementary school, students who are just beginning to learn English or have no previous knowledge at all are placed in regular classes for most of the day but they are withdrawn for extra EAL classes for one period each day.
In this time they work in small groups with an EAL specialist who helps the children with everyday classroom language, “survival English” at first and then all aspects of English as needed. Of course the children are learning English continually from their teachers and from their peers, but during the pull-out time the EAL teacher can focus closely on their individual needs.

The push-in programme for second phase language learners.
As the students’ knowledge and understanding of the English language increases, the EAL specialist and classroom teacher decide together when the student is ready to benefit from working in class with his/her peers for the whole day. The EAL specialist then goes in to the classroom to give continued language support to the students. If there is need for further targeted support, the EAL teacher may also pull-out the students for further small group instruction.

The EAL teachers are in constant close communication with their mainstream colleagues on the content and requirements of the mainstream classes. Whenever possible the mainstream and EAL classes work together on assignments and projects.

Grades 6 –10

EAL classes take place during the mainstream English and humanities classes and students are taught in grade-level groups.

The EAL students work with their mainstream classes in all other subjects. The EAL classes aim to develop the skills and attitudes required for effective communication and study; reading writing, listening and speaking.

To develop an appreciation, knowledge and understanding of literature and language, a variety of teaching strategies, instructional materials, flexible assignments and additional services are used as needed.

The EAL department understands that students learn in different ways and at different speeds, therefore we aim to provide support and encouragement for each student on their way to full proficiency.

During EAL classes, students study both English and Humanities using a variety of texts and materials. The EAL teachers are in constant close communication with their mainstream colleagues on the content and requirements of the mainstream classes. The literature read in EAL classes is chosen to reflect the topics covered by the mainstream classes. The content of the humanities mainstream classes is also followed as far as is linguistically possible by the EAL class to ease the transition from EAL to mainstream class. Whenever possible the mainstream and EAL classes work together on assignments and projects.

In addition to the English and humanities EAL classes students are required to take further EAL support classes during the electives / options block. These may be additional communication skills classes, EAL extension class,  EAL science, EAL mathematics, or literacy classes which are all courses designed to assist the students with the specific language requirements of these subjects.

Exit procedure

Students can exit the programme at any time during the school year when their work reaches the required standard of fluency and accuracy to succeed in the mainstream classroom. They then join the mainstream class for a trial period of four weeks before officially exiting EAL.


Student assessment is both formative and summative and is based on student participation, oral work, quizzes, tests, project work, homework and teacher observation.  In addition to the EAL specific criteria, students will be assessed using the MYP criteria.  In English these are content, organization, and style and language use.  In humanities they are knowledge, application and understanding of key concepts, development of skills, and organization and presentation of the material.  Students will be assessed using clearly stated criteria or rubrics.

Additional EAL classes include EAL science, a class to support the EAL learner with the mainstream science content, EAL Options classes in grades 9 and 10.
Language Support in grades 6 - 8, the EAL department undertakes to support students in all aspects of their academic studies and social integration as far as possible.

Advice and suggestions on how you can support your child’s learning at ISD.

At the International School of Düsseldorf the language of instruction is English.
For students whose native language is not English this can be very challenging.
As parents you also worry about how best to help your child; whether or not they will be successful and how will they adapt when you return to your home country.

Our goal in the English as an Additional Language department at ISD is to help your children become successful communicators in English and successful learners, both in and out of the classroom.

Some tips to help your child.

  1. Learning and speaking in a language other than the mother tongue all day in school is quite exhausting. Especially younger children will need time to relax, play and just be themselves. Give them this time. Try not to fit in too many appointments or after school activities into the time after school, at least at the beginning of their stay at ISD.

  2. For homework and studying your children need a quiet place with good lighting and plenty of space to work without disturbances.

  3. Your sons and daughters are learning English all day at school; however, research in language acquisition shows conclusively that it is of vital importance for their cognitive development that they continue to develop their mother tongue competence.

  4. When your child has settled in at ISD, do encourage them to join in some after school sports activities. This is a great way to meet other students and will support their English acquisition.

Mother Tongue Maintenance and Development.

Of course we rely on your support for your child’s good progress at ISD but it is most important to concentrate on the maintenance and development of their Mother Tongue. How can you do this?

  • Follow the natural language development pattern and reinforce the basic skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing according to the child’s developmental stage.
  • Ask your children’s teachers about the topics they will be studying and try to get some materials on this topic in their mother tongue.
  • Talk to your child about what they did at school – in their mother tongue , during the conversation help them with words which they may have learnt in English but not know in their mother tongue.
  • According to their ages, read to your children as often as possible in their mother tongue: stories, folk tales, poems and rhymes etc. Have a selection of age appropriate books available for when they are able to read themselves.
  • Buy cassettes, CDs and videos of songs and stories in the mother tongue.
  • Link up with other parents who share the same mother tongue and investigate the possibilities of organizing classes after school. Talk to the Mother Tongue Coordinator about it.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take my child to learn English?
There is no simple answer to this question. It depends on the child’s age, the similarity of their Mother Tongue to English, their motivation, their language learning ability etc etc.
Every child learns language at a different rate. Some students need more time, some need less time. Others take a long time before they even start to speak. We call this the Silent Phase.  It is not a cause for concern unless it continues for several months.
Children learn language, or acquire language if they are given comprehensible input and opportunities to practice in a non-threatening environment. We provide these at ISD.

When can my child exit the EAL programme?
Children exit the EAL programme when we are sure that they have sufficient command of the English language to cope with the grade level demands and be successful in mainstream. This is generally decided by the EAL teacher in collaboration with the mainstream teacher.

Who supports their language when they leave the EAL programme?
Every student at ISD is learning language every day. Each subject area has their own specialist language: the language needed to study music, art, science, math etc. Every teacher at ISD is a language teacher.

If you have other questions about language acquisition, please do not hesitate to contact the EAL department.

  Printer friendly version