English as an Added Language or Dialect

English as an Added Language or Dialect

The Engaging All Students community includes supporting teachers of students whose English is an additional language and/or dialect other than English (EAL/D)and who require additional support to assist them to develop proficiency in English.

Mathematics and language are closely linked.  Mathematics is sometimes perceived as a "universal language" with an assumption of understanding in all languages.  Mathematics teachers however, can work with English teachers to provide additional support to EAL/D students. Teachers can then introduce concepts verbally to develop their mathematical understanding. Students' understanding of mathematics vocabulary and having ample opportunities to use this will be very important to their success.

EAL/D students are themselves diverse and teachers need to appreciate this complexity:

1) Students for whom English is an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) enter Australian schools at different ages and at different stages of English language learning and have varying educational backgrounds in their first languages and mathematics. While many EAL/D students bring already highly developed literacy and numeracy skills in their own language to their learning of Standard Australian English, there is a significant number of students who are not literate in their first language and have had little or no formal schooling. (ACARA Diversity Advice to Principals and Schools, Page 9-17)

2) Students may have had prior educational experience that included mathematical instruction. It may be the case however, that assumptions about the level of students' knowledge and skills already acquired may lead educators astray.

3) EAL/D students come from diverse multilingual backgrounds and may include:

  • overseas-or Australian-born students whose first language is a language other than English
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students whose first language is an Indigenous language, including traditional languages, Creole and related varieties, or Aboriginal English.

ELL teachers who haven't taught content areas previously may be asked to lead or support instruction in the mathematics classroom, and many maths teachers who don't see themselves as language instructors may now be responsible for providing effective maths instruction to students from EAL/D backgrounds.

As a result of more effective instruction EAL/D students will:

  • understand the content better and work together to find creative ways to learn
  • discuss mathematics more and know how to use the instructional supports their teacher has in place and
  • be comfortable with mathematics and with asking questions to get the help they need.