Picture above: Mr Shaun Couchman, Head of English Faculty.


Today, we would like to introduce our Head of English Faculty, Mr Shaun Couchman, who will be sharing more about Britannica's EAL (English as an additional language) provision. Mr Couchman is a very experienced English teacher and educator at Britannica International School, Shanghai. We hope this article will give you greater insight into the many ways Britannica supports language learning and offers the very best of British education for your child.


For those new to Britannica, what is EAL?

'EAL' is English as an Additional Language, meaning that English is not someone's first (or even second) language. Many of our students at Britannica are EAL learners, with the vast majority of children speaking multiple languages, on top of English

How are students new to English supported in their learning?

At Britannica we have a number of ways in which students are supported with their language acquisition. Primarily, this will be seen in every classroom across all areas of the school. EAL support is paramount in all teachers' planning and teaching, ensuring that all students have access to the wider curriculum. For some students who might need extra help and support with their English language learning, we also run support classes, led by specialist EAL teachers. These classes directly support the learning that is happening in the mainstream classroom, meaning that students are also able to keep on top of their wider studies, whilst developing their understanding of the English language. EAL teaching is also central within our professional development programme, with many teachers also having completed the accredited TESMC course, along with many other training opportunities in the area.

Does Britannica cater for pupils with English of any level?

Students at Britannica have a wide variety of levels of English. Many children arrive at Britannica with little or only very basic English; however, after only few weeks amazing progress can be seen. As long as students are able to access the basic curriculum, then they can be supported with their English language learning.

How is Language Development encouraged for pupils new to the English National Curriculum?

Language Development is encouraged through fostering caring and patient learning environments, in which the curriculum can be tailored to the needs of all students. All children are given time to adapt to learning in a new language and in a new curriculum, along with the added levels of support, such as that from specialist EAL teachers.

How is EAL taught within the school timetable?

Those students who are identified as requiring extra EAL support receive allotted lessons on their timetable to spend with a specialist EAL teacher. The EAL lessons directly support what is being taught in the curriculum and in the main class. In the Primary phase students may have 3 specialist EAL support lessons per week and in Secondary this will vary depending on the needs of the individual students and their timetables. Differentiation for EAL is at the heart of all teachers' planning and lessons delivery, therefore EAL is supported at all times, across the curriculum and timetable.

Is EAL taught by native English speakers?

The EAL specialists in school are native English speakers. All teachers and support staff across the school are either native English speakers or speak English fluently and proficiently, and are therefore able to support the language learning of all children.

How are non-native speakers supported in preparing for GCSE/IGCSE or A Level examinations?

As in all other areas of the school our exam level students are supported with specialist EAL lessons that directly support the syllabuses and courses that they are following. Students with limited English language will follow a tailored timetable, meaning that they have dedicated EAL support time for them to ensure that they are able to access the information relevant to be successful in their exams.

What makes Britannica a great place for students who are not native English speakers?

The small class sizes and teacher to student ratios mean that there is a lot of scope for teachers to really get to know children and their needs within English language learning. On top of this, it also means that the curriculums can be tailored to best support all children and ensure their successes. The friendly and positive environment at Britannica make children feel quickly at ease and many students quickly develop their confidence in using English regularly and skillfully. With having students from so many different countries and backgrounds, the use of English around school often unites children, as a common communication tool, both in their learning and play. We are lucky at Britannica to have a well skilled and dedicated team of teachers and EAL specialists, along with a commitment to continue to learn ourselves about how to best support EAL learners.

Britannica Eal Showcase 2