Strand 3

Slides 2
Strand 2
20th August 2021
Slides 4
Strand 4
24th August 2021
Slides 2
Strand 2
20th August 2021
Slides 4
Strand 4
24th August 2021

Learning outcomes


  • Know about the different types of assessment available to you
  • Know about how to learn a second language writing system


  • Be able to identify evidence to support language learning
  • Be able to track progress of learners using an EAL continuum


  • Reflect on the suitability of an EAL continuum and how suitable it might be for your learners’ backgrounds and needs


Strand Overview

3a. Is a broad range of evidence used to assess EAL learners in English, for example, using an EAL assessment continuum, which identifies next steps in learning from absolute beginner through to fluent? (within early years, observational assessment of learning development should be the primary form of assessment)
3b. Are new-to-English learners aged 6+ assessed on arrival and 2-3 times a year for:
-reading (and phonics where appropriate)
-speaking and listening
-vocabulary and language structures?
For early years, are teachers assessing development in speech, language and communication in both languages? (through observations and significant parental involvement)
3c. Are EAL learners actively involved in assessing their own language learning?
3d. Are EAL learners given appropriate feedback on their learning? For early years, are appropriate comments and elaborations provided to support a rich language context and next steps in learning?
3e. Are ongoing informal assessments used to inform learning?



Slide 2 – Assessment

Read the slide. Note that William & Black’s research changes the way we approach assessment.

Ask the participants if they can tell you the difference between summative and formative assessment.


Summative assessment informs us where learners are at a point in time (usually by comparing against a standard or benchmark). Formative assessment, however, is based on monitoring student learning to provide continual feedback, which can be used by teachers to improve the learning. It is essential that we support students with ongoing development of learning (formative assessment).

Ask if these statements are formative or summative assessments and why:

  1. A test that tells us a reading age
    Answer: Summative assessment
  1. Marking that provides next step comments
    Answer: Formative assessment
  1. A final project
    Answer: Summative assessment
  1. A graded piece of writing with tips on how to develop it
    Answer: Formative assessment 

Activity 3.1 shows a list of ideas for making assessment integral to the EAL learning experience. Ask participants to underline items they feel are challenging or would like to develop and tick items they feel are their strengths.

 (Time guide: 10 minutes)

Further learning – Formative and Summative Assessment also listed at the end of Strand 3 should form part of post-session reading.


Slide 3 – Choose an assessment continuum


An assessment continuum provides a good way to track the progress of the EAL learners. By highlighting (and dating) when learners have achieved each criteria every half-term, you can clearly see progress over time. The continuum should be used across school years until they are accessing English at a similar level to their peers.

Whichever EAL assessment continuum you choose, it should systematically work through the steps of language learning from new-to-English through to advanced levels. Many have been adapted to fit young learners in schools.

These assessment continua can be used with absolute beginners up to more advanced learners of English, providing an additional assessment to complement day-to-day curriculum assessments.

By the time learners are half way through a continuum they can often access the curriculum around them. At this point, the easiest option is to withdraw not only the EAL support, but also the assessment in the English language learning area (taking the learners off the continuum). However, this can result in gaps in the learners’ understanding of the basics of English needed for later success. It’s therefore important to ensure that learners are still progressing on an English language learning curriculum alongside the content learning they are receiving day to day.

This slide shows the NASSEA EAL Assessment Framework. This can be used for tracking and can follow the learner across school years until they are accessing English at a similar level to their peers.

Other possible continua include:

  • NASSEA EAL Assessment Framework
  • BELL Foundation Assessment Framework
  • ELLP Matrix – English Language Learning Progression
  • Common European Framework
  • WIDA Model

The achievement of criteria should be based on evidence, which can be collected and reported on using an EAL progress review (see next slide).


Slide 4 – EAL Progress Review


The EAL progress review shows exactly where learners are on their language learning journey at regular intervals, e.g. every term.

It can form part of a file (which could be electronic) that shows the learner’s progress in reading, writing, speaking and listening, with supporting evidence.

Repeated evidence that shows progress could include:

  • Across Cultures baseline assessment
  • samples of writing
  • reading records
  • phonics checks
  • notes from progress meetings.

Use an assessment continuum of your choice (Bell EAL Assessment Framework, NASSEA EAL Assessment Framework and the Common European Framework – CEFR), along with a sample of writing (see samples on the Across Cultures Framework Portal), to grade, identify progress and propose targets (Activity 3.2). Note that targets should be set with learners in real situations.

Review samples.

Note that NASSEA is designed specifically for school-aged learners and incorporates a greater number of steps at the early stages of language learning than the CEF. However, the CEF may be more suitable for learners who are aiming to complete English language proficiency tests, e.g. PET or KET, as it has more comprehensive descriptors at the high levels of proficiency. The CEF was created for adults and some elements are not entirely suitable for schools with younger learners. The Extended Scale is based on the English National Curriculum levels (pre-2015) and only covers the early stages of language learning. The Bell Foundation also introduced a comprehensive assessment framework in 2017: Click here. (accessed 24/08/21).

ELLP Matrix is a continuum developed in New Zealand for the same purpose and is also very suitable: Click here.


Slide 5 – Assessment for learning

Have a look at the baseline assessment and supporting notes on how to use it.

Take time to note the following:

  • If a learner is clearly unsuccessful at all or most of the first few questions, it may be a good idea to start at the beginning of the resource file (p93, session 1). We will discuss how to use these sessions later in the training.
  • If a learner does not succeed with a particular language structure or vocabulary topic, this can become a teaching point. Each question has a related session reference, directing you to a ready-made lesson, with resources, on the subject. These ready-made resources do not have to be used. The teacher is the expert and should choose the most appropriate way to accomplish the learning objective. The resources are there as a support, offering possible ideas.
  • Also refer to the Assessment for learning and language structure checklist (p411-418). This provides the teacher with a structured way of recording what learners can do after each lesson. It would be a good idea to highlight the areas the learner failed to achieve in their assessment in order to focus teaching around their needs.

(Time guide: 10 minutes)


Slide 6 – Baseline Assessment

Explain that:

Formative assessment “describes the process of teaching and learning, whereas summative assessment takes place after the teaching and learning.” Clarke (2001). Of course, summative assessment is very important to show us where the children are at that point in time, but in order to take the learning forward, we need to use this to inform future learning.

Show the baseline assessment: How do participants think it can be used?

Explain the baseline assessment:

  • The baseline assessment is designed to identify whether the learner has the language needed to work comfortably in their new environment. It may also be used to identify gaps in the fundamentals of English language learning. It can be taken in parts, if required.
  • It can be administered verbally or in writing, depending on the ability and age of the learner.
  • This assessment allows the teacher to decide, first, if small-group induction sessions would be suitable for the learner and, second, how to accurately select appropriate sessions to teach.
  • Be aware that children may not have seen an assessment like this before and may not be able to answer the questions, even though they understand the concept. Careful thought must be given as to how and what assessment questions are asked. If the learner finds the first few questions too hard and you realise they do not understand anything, stop the assessment. The learner needs to, at the very least, be a little successful; there is no point in continuing the assessment and obtaining no results. In cases like these, you can assume there is no or very limited understanding of English (even in some cases where the learner elects not to speak, possibly due to lack of confidence).
  • The EAL learner may just need a few sessions to build confidence before adjusting fully to the mainstream.


Slide 7 – Learning Village

As mentioned previously, the Learning Village resource is a very helpful tool to support learning with the fundamentals of English (BICS) and some of the academic language (CALP) needed to access the curriculum.

  • The Village – Primary
  • The Islands – Secondary

It can be used to complement teacher-supported one-on-one or small-group work, or as a learner-directed support for supporting their own independent language learning.

Based on assessment, results are clearly tracked over time, allowing teachers to ‘zoom in’ on potential issues.

For more information, register at


Slide 8 – Weekly reports


Here is an example of the weekly report you see when using the Learning Village.


Slide 9 – Overview of learning


Here is an example of results showing learner achievement according to each vocabulary or language structure.


Slides 10-11 – What can we use as supporting evidence?


Here is an example of the supporting evidence we can use to populate the EAL continuum.


Slide 12 – Second language writing system

Start thinking about teaching beginners of English to use a second language writing system.

Share the quote and note that:

Letters and words need to mean something to the learner.


Slide 13 – How to learn a second language writing system

Look in more detail at how to learn a second language writing system (Activity 3.3).

Refer to Further learning – teaching beginners of English a second language writing system. Make reference to each point with a comment:

  • Direction (the learners need to learn the appropriate direction of left to right reading and writing)
  • Letter formation (learners have to recognise the actual letter or character shapes – Letter formation guide
  • Phonological processing (learners need to learn how to process phonetically – phonics programme)
  • Lexical processing (learners need to understand that a sound goes with a word, e.g. ‘goes’ to its sound, including an array of high frequency words which do not correspond to phonetic rules).
  • Orthographical regularities (for example, certain irregularities might include the use of double ‘l’, e.g. ‘follow’ ,or the use of a silent ‘e’, e.g. ‘like’. This would be covered as part of a phonics programme)
  • Punctuation (the learners need to understand how to use punctuation marks)
  • Creativity (for example, words used in names, like ‘Kidz Games’, or in text message language, such as ‘LOL’ (‘laugh out loud). It isn’t necessary to cover these in the early stages, however.)
  • Functions (learners must be able to use words and language structures for talking or writing in many contexts, e.g. a visit to the library or the school canteen)

(Time guide: 10-15 minutes)

A note on teaching EAL learners phonic:

Some EAL learners may face some of the following challenges:

  • A home language with a different alphabet. This may result in the need to learn the letters and sounds of the new language.
  • A home language with a similar alphabet, but with some significant differences. This may result in the need to learn the sounds that are different in the new language.
  • The learner may have learnt their home language through word recognition rather than phonics.
  • A learner’s home language skills may not yet be fully developed. This may result in difficulties in transferring their home language learning to the new language.
  • A home language that is not a written language. In cases like these, there is sometimes a formal language that is adopted that learners may have been learning.

Learners can therefore often benefit from learning phonics to enable them to decode words, aiding confidence in reading and writing.


Slide 14 – What kind of provision might support the learning of a second language writing system?


Use the following activities to familiarise the participants with the resources available in the resource file under ‘Using a second language writing system’, listed on the slide:

  1. Phonics assessment sheets 
  2. Letter formation guide
  3. Phonemes to graphemes and sample words 


Ask participants to look at progression in phonics (Activity 3.4).

  • What phase would you start with?
  • What would you do next to help the learner?
  • How could this work in your own context?
  • Do you have provision for a phonics programme in older years?

Answers will vary, but there should be an acknowledgement that the learner needs to work on Phase 3. Participants may state that revision of all is necessary, as there are a few errors.

Follow Progression in Phonics  to see the next steps for teaching. Also, note the Phonemes to graphemes and sample words.

(Time guide: 10 minutes)

Participants need to complete the post-session learning:  ‘Further learning – Teaching beginners of English a second language writing system’ after the session.


Slide 15 – Post-session learning

All participants should ensure they read any ‘Further learning’ sections within Strand 4 that were not covered in the session.


Slide 16 – Reflection and Action Points

Allow participants 5 minutes’ reflection time to add to their Reflection and Action Points notes.


Slide 17 – Case study

Divide your participants into groups and introduce the case study issue (found on the Across Cultures Framework Portal). Participants should work as a team to complete the review. This case study can be revisited at the end of all the strands and presented by the team at the end of Strand 9. You may wish to adjust it for a different age group or school context. The group may also wish to meet between sessions to prepare themselves.

You must keep in mind that you are to feedback against the criteria for each session:

Strand 1: Understanding EAL learners in the mainstream
Strand 2: Enhanced admissions including community building
Strand 3: EAL assessment
Strand 4: Induction-to-English
Strand 5: Planning differentiation for EAL learners in class
Strand 6: Differentiating for EAL learners in class
Strand 7: Focused scaffolding of language
Strand 8: Effective use of language learning strategies
Strand 9: Whole-school EAL development


Across Cultures

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