English as an Additional Language (EAL) recognises that learning a new language is completely different to picking up your first. To begin with, even those that are the best at their own language continue to refine it throughout their school career, and they started even before the day they were born. In EAL this process is repeated but in a speedier and more explicit way. EAL teaches the language structures on which everything else can be built. It looks at how words, sentences and essays are built. It provides reading, writing, speaking and listening skills and practise, as well as providing ways to deal with language that is unknown. It is the gateway to understanding.
Years 7, 8 and 9 – EAL
Throughout the School, students who are identified as requiring extra EAL support are offered a specific language programme to develop their English. While most students take EAL alongside the main curriculum timetable, in some cases a pupil may be withdrawn from certain subjects in order to join a short-term modified programme. The EAL staff liaise with subject teachers as necessary and may offer subject-specific support when necessary, especially in the revision period before the summer examinations. Students may be offered the possibility of taking an examination from the Cambridge English suite of examinations (KET, PET or FCE for Schools).
Years 10 and 11 – ESL
At GCSE level, students whose first language is not English will be tested at the beginning of Year 10 to determine whether they will take the standard GCSE English Courses in English Language and English Literature, or whether they will study the IGCSE in English as a Second Language. Most students who have EAL lessons will study the IGCSE option; only those who are classified as “near-native speakers” will take the standard GCSE route.
GCSE English as a Second Language (ESL) is a language acquisition and development course. It is designed for learners whose first language is not English, but who already have a working knowledge of the language. Students develop their English language skills whilst expanding their knowledge of a variety of contemporary topics. They develop grammatical understanding and communicative competence and extend their vocabulary.
The programme of study supports and enhances student performance in the different academic subjects taken in Years 10 and 11, particularly those which require a well-developed standard of literacy for successful outcomes at GCSE level. The qualification is also an excellent preparation for the next steps in a student’s education. The IGCSE in ESL at grade C (not number grades) or above is accepted by some universities both in the UK and abroad as suitable proof of competency in the English language for the purposes of undergraduate study. Students may also be offered the option of taking the Cambridge First Certificate English for Schools at the end of Year 10.
Years 12 and 13 – EAL
Students joining Cobham Hall’s Sixth Form who are not native speakers of English (or who do not possess native-speaker competence in the language equivalent to C2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) will also be required to study English as an Additional Language (EAL).
The course develops linguistic competence in English beyond B2 Level and equips students to become effective, independent users of the language. It prepares them for the language requirements of both higher education in English-speaking universities and future career routes. Students arrange to take the IELTS examination at the end of Year 12. In Year 13 they can chose to take Cambridge Advanced English or to have support for specific A level courses. Some students may be offered the opportunity to prepare for the Cambridge Proficiency Examination if their competence in the language is sufficiently high.