There are about 80 nationalities at The BSN - this makes our classes rich with multi-cultural diversity which we love to celebrate and use in our curriculum. Many of our pupils already speak enough English to access our curriculum, but for those who cannot we provide support both within the mainstream classroom and in separate specialist classes as necessary.
We appreciate that moving to a new country can be a difficult time for parents and children alike, and that the challenge of learning a new language can cause extra concerns. We want to assure you that we are here to listen to those concerns and to help you and your child settle into school as quickly and smoothly as possible. That process starts from the very first time that you contact the admissions department. We treat all children as individuals and work hard to ensure that we fully understand the specific situation and needs of all our students.
Staff at all our schools are extremely experienced in welcoming children and parents from all around the world for whom English is not their mother tongue. We deal with children of all levels, from those who do not speak or understand a word, to those who just need a little extra support with spelling or grammar. We are very practised in assessing children coming from different educational backgrounds and systems and being aware of how that can initially impact on their learning in the classroom.
English as an Additional Language (EAL) - What is it?
In many schools they talk about ESL (English as a Second Language) but lots of our students already speak two or more languages so we use the term EAL.
Who has EAL lessons?
Many of the students from the 80+ different nationalities that make up our school, speak enough English to access our curriculum, but for those who cannot we provide support both within the mainstream classroom and in separate EAL classes, as necessary.
Senior School EAL Learners
At the beginning of each academic year, the Senior School tests all EAL pupils transferring from Junior School and all new pupils who may need to join EAL. Students joining the school during the course of the year will be tested separately either before or on arrival at school.
In many cases it is necessary for students to take an EAL test before an offer of a school place is made. This is simply so that the level of support required can be assessed and included in the parental contract and offer of a place.
On completion of the test, students are given a ‘BSN level’ based on their results. Please see the table in the English as an Additional Language Information Sheet for details of these levels. It is this level which will determine the degree of EAL support required and the number of lessons that your child will need to attend.
How is EAL taught in the Senior School?
Our teaching focuses on small groups and individuals, initially away from the mainstream classes. A wide range of materials are used to facilitate language learning in meaningful and realistic contexts for the age of the students and in close collaboration with subject teachers. In addition to this withdrawal work, we provide support in subject classes to small groups and individuals who are having particular difficulty accessing the curriculum in certain subjects.
In order to motivate students further, we organise external examinations at all levels and these are recognised by institutions and organisations all over the world, notably universities where pupils may subsequently study.
Will my child need to miss some subjects for EAL?
As the curriculum at The BSN is delivered exclusively in English, the priority for your child must be able to get their English to a standard where they can access the lessons of the other subjects. It is therefore essential that we raise the level of their English quickly and so they must miss some subjects initially in order to gain in the longer term.
The results of the EAL test determine the number of hours that students will be withdrawn from mainstream curriculum subjects for EAL. Withdrawal for EAL lessons varies according to level of need. An Individual Learning Support Programme (ILSP) for each student is created and this often involves a mix of both withdrawal and inclass support.
For complete beginners in Years 7–9, it is necessary to make special arrangements involving an individual or small group tutor to work with these students until they are able to join a class on the normal basis.
We are not able to take ‘Beginner Level’ EAL students directly into Years 10–13 as they would not be able to access the curriculum. In some situations, it can be possible for students to drop back a year – this would need to be discussed and agreed prior to admission.
When will my child no longer need EAL support?
We constantly assess all EAL students and return them to classes as an on-going process. The level at which students can choose to leave EAL is when they are upper-intermediate or can pass the Cambridge First for Schools examination. This is BSN Level 4 (see table overleaf). Many pupils actually choose to continue their EAL classes after this point in order to achieve a greater level of fluency and facilitate their study of other subjects still further.
The table in the English as an Additional Language Information Sheet has been developed to measure the English language ability of students when they join the school as an EAL learner. Placement in a certain level helps the EAL teaching team to determine the level of support required by each child – their Individual Learning Support Programme is then created accordingly. This table is used for Senior School students only.