PDO School is a non-selective, mainstream primary school, with pupils from a diverse range of cultural and educational backgrounds. PDO School is proud of this fact and we celebrate our diversity! A consequence of this diversity is that many of our children are "non-native speakers". However this does not mean that these children are not effective English speakers – in fact the majority of children at the school are bilingual and can use their 'Home Language' and English effectively and at an age-appropriate level.
As with most international schools, PDO School has chosen an ‘EAL in the mainstream’ approach, (sometimes referred to as ‘Immersion’), to helping our children learn. This approach, based on language learning research, places the idea that language can be acquired as central to learning. Acquiring a language is when the learner is in a context where they are surrounded by the target language (English) and are placed in situations where they need to use it (with support). While some children may receive ‘language’ or ‘grammar’ lessons, the majority of children's language is acquired. It should be stressed that 'EAL in the mainstream' is not a "throw them in and let them sink or swim" approach. Rather it provides language learning opportunities constantly throughout the day. Language support is provided for those children in need of additional tuition to help them to access the curriculum .
PDO School is an EAL-friendly school and believes that language is best learned when it is acquired through learning in a context that is stimulating and relevant to children’s interests, experiences and needs. Thus the classroom is a deliberately language rich environment, which promotes language development. The IPC is a language rich curriculum, which has been designed to be both accessible to EAL learners and which helps all children develop their language abilities. At PDO School the English National Curriculum for mathematics is taught alongside a well structured literacy system which blends the best elements of both the English and Australian National Curriculum to support our children’s needs.
An advantage of this curriculum, from an EAL perspective, is that there is an explicit focus on developing language skills, particularly in reading and writing. The curriculum uses ‘technical’ vocabulary which both native speakers and EAL children need to learn, understand and use appropriately. The EAL team may provide EAL support in-class, or may withdraw children either in small groups or individually, depending on the learning needs of each individual child. In addition, children in P4-7who need additional English support receive this during the Language Hour session in place of starting a further language. All the EAL Teachers, both full and part time, have additional teaching qualifications to provide appropriate support to EAL Learners.
As with all our learners, PDO School strongly believes that learning is a collaborative process between the school, child and parents. Parents of children who receive EAL support from the EAL Team are consulted and kept informed of their child’s language learning needs through regular contact with their child’s class teacher and where appropriate a designated EAL teacher. Parents are also expected to support their child with EAL home learning where appropriate.