English as an Additional Language (EAL) teaching and learning in UK schools takes place within the mainstream and within all subjects. It is primarily about teaching and learning language through the content of the whole curriculum. Research indicates that it takes as long as seven years for pupils learning EAL to acquire a level of English proficiency comparable to native English speaking peers and this is sometimes used to argue that EAL pupils should learn ‘sufficient’ English before they join mainstream classes. Teachers cannot wait for EAL pupils to develop high levels of English language proficiency before tackling the demands of the curriculum, but must enable pupils to participate in curriculum content learning while they are simultaneously learning English. This requires the linking of academic content to language objectives and ensuring that language objectives are compatible with academic content.
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