English as an Additional Language (EAL) and support for English Language Learners (Primary)


"There's some schools that you walk through and wish that your own children had had the opportunity to be in them. This is one of those schools. I've been really inspired by what I've seen over the last couple of days and encouraged that this is happening here because not only is there a focus on developing the whole child...but there's an explicit focus on the fact that all children have the potential to be linguistically talented and we should be picking up, acknowledging the languages and the cultural knowledge the children are bringing to school and making the children more than they were. And that's actively happening in this school."
Jim Cummins, (Parent Information Evening, 2013)

The EAL Programme

On arrival at the international School of The Hague (ISH), children are evaluated and placed in an appropriate stage of the EAL programme. This might be in the beginners Fun Club, in a small group withdrawn several times from class, or in the mainstream class but with regular support and monitoring by the EAL and classroom teachers.

Fun Club

For beginners arriving at ISH we provide a Fun Club. This intensive English programme builds survival English in a fun way. We use a collaborative approach where children work in small groups with an EAL teacher or assistant. The major focus of the Fun Club is to help children develop the language and skills needed to build friendships at school, and to support participation in the mainstream classroom.

Learning a New Language

We know that children learn English best when they:

  • feel comfortable and safe
  • make connections between languages they already know and the new language
  • have a strong mother foundation from which to build their new language understandings
We also know that:
  • basic social language can takes 1 -2 years to acquire
  • complex academic language can take 5 -7 years

Out of Class Groups

As children’s English acquisition progresses, they will become part of an out of class group, which meets two or three times per week. Children arriving at ISH with some English may also join this group. Lessons are linked to the classroom International Primary Curriculum) IPC topics, and are purposefully designed to enable children to develop the skills and confidence they need to be successful in the mainstream classroom. EAL teachers meet regularly with classroom teachers to keep up with current lesson themes, and progress is monitored together.

In Class Support

Children whose level of English is approaching the norm of the mainstream classroom will be monitored and supported in class once or twice a week. The EAL teacher will work in specific lessons with the classroom teacher to support the children in developing successful learning strategies.


Although a child may no longer require direct EAL support we continue to monitor their progress along with the classroom teacher to make sure that support is available if needed.

Writing Groups

As children progress though primary school, the reading and writing demands of the curriculum become more complex. Quite often, they need more support to develop these difficult skills. This might take the form of a ‘Writing Group’ in Years 5 and 6.

Planning with Mainstream Teachers

EAL and mainstream teachers hold weekly planning meetings together to share information about individual children, curriculum and assessments. Time is also spent finding ways to enhance learning and teaching in our remarkable multilingual classroom.


If you would like more information about any part of our EAL programme, please contact one of our EAL staff.

Mindy McCracken: m.mccracken@ishthehague.nl


Allowing students to flexibly use their languages for a communicative (Garcia, 2009) or academic purpose.