This blog post will outline what written planning and preparation is needed for English as an Additional Language teaching in Ireland, as well as hi-lighting the relevant documents to look at and showing where you can find resources.
How does EAL teaching work under the revised SET allocation model?
As part of the revised SET allocation process, circular 0013/2017 set out how there is now one post called a SET (special education teacher) who works with ALL pupils needing additional support, including those needing support for learning needs, emotional/ behavioural/ other needs, and EAL. This means that many SET teachers now have children on their caseload who have diagnosed SEN, other children with no formal diagnosis of SEN, and other pupils with EAL.
In some schools where there are very high numbers of pupils requiring EAL support (at least 20% of the total enrolment of the school is made up of pupils that require EAL support i.e. pupils with less than B1 proficiency) an appeal can be made by the school for additional EAL teaching posts and these teachers work to support the children with EAL in the school, so would only have pupils with EAL on their caseload.
Where can I find the relevant documents and publications?
The NCCA used to have a page on their website dedicated to EAL in primary schools, but it seems to have been taken down in 2023. Fortunately the IPPN have a document with links to the relevant resources and documents here. Although the bad news is that most of the guidance and resources are quite old!
What resources will I use?
SET/ EAL teachers should assess children using the Primary School Assessment Kit (PSAK). This is available at the link from the IPPN website above,
Once you have administered the PSAK, you will know what level of language proficiency the children are on, and you can begin teaching using the “Up and Away” EAL curriculum.
The NCCA EAL website also provides a workbook called “My First English Book” for children in Junior & Senior Infants. It is fairly basic and I have found in the past that I needed to supplement it with additional/ more relevant worksheets. For First Class upwards, there is a European Language Portfolio.
What are the requirements for EAL teachers written preparation/ planning?
As you will read below, there is a requirement for teachers to assess EAL pupils and to have recorded preparation, however there is no one, up to date document or circular on written preparation for EAL.
Circular 0015/2009 is the most recent circular from the Department of Education relating specifically to EAL. It outlines the role of the language support teacher as follows:
“EAL support teachers are appointed to assist schools in providing additional EAL support teaching for pupils. The EAL pupil remains the responsibility of the mainstream class teacher at primary level and the subject specialist teachers at post primary level who will work closely with the EAL support teachers. In collaboration with parents and mainstream class teachers, EAL support teachers
identify pupils requiring additional language support, assess pupils’ proficiency in English using the assessment materials, devise appropriate language programmes, deliver the programmes and record and monitor pupils’ progress.”
While the role of the EAL/ language support teacher is now encompassed in the position of SET teacher as per circular 0013/2017, this circular did not state that circular 0015/2009 was being replaced, so the requirement to assess and plan for EAL pupils remains.
The NCCA also have 70-page guidelines (pictured) for teachers here which were published in 2006. There is a section in the document that covers “school planning and classroom planning” but it is very broad and doesn’t provide any guidance on what written preparation is needed.
The 2021 Guidance on Preparation for Teaching and Learning says that written preparation should refer directly to the curriculum, include the focus of learning for the children and what their learning experiences will be, and specify how the learning will be demonstrated i.e. assessment. It specifies long term recorded preparation, short term recorded preparation, and the cuntas míosúil as the written preparation/ planning that needs to be done.
Is there any guidance on EAL planning and preparation?
There is nothing specific to EAL teacher planning on the NIPT website.
The inspectorate produced a report on EAL in primary schools in 2008 and they said the following:
Integrate Ireland Language and Training have a sample 3-week outline of content to show what could be covered in a period here. However, it is more to demonstrate what sorts of activities could be covered, rather than giving guidance on how to do written preparation or planning.
So how do I do written preparation for EAL teaching?
The inspectorate report says that children need to have an individual language programme based on their assessed competencies. This is basically an EAL Individual Education Plan which is based on the Up and Away EAL Curriculum and the results of the children’s PSAK assessments. Each child will need an individual EAL long term plan for the year with unique aims, targets and vocab depending on which level they are on (A1, A2 or B1) in each of the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Each child in your school who will receive language support will need their own EAL IEP. However large schools, that have a very high percentage of children with EAL, this can mean you may need a separate plan for several hundred children. Doing plans for all of these children is extremely time consuming. Trust me, I have done it during my time as an EAL teacher!
Do you have any templates/ sample plans to help with this?
Yes! Teachingplans.ie has a unique, editable EAL Long term plan which has been designed to allow you to create EAL Individual Education Plans for all of the children in your school who receive language support quickly and easily. Using this plan, I have been able to create an EAL IEP with aims, targets and vocab to match a child’s individual PSAK results in under 1 minute! Filling out the individual pupil profile section, is the most time-consuming part of this plan, but even this can be done in less than 10 minutes if you have the information already to hand. So, using this template, will allow you to create EAL IEPS with aims, targets and vocabulary specific to each child’s profile of needs in under 10mintes per child!
How does your editable long term planning template work?
It is very common that child may be on different levels (A1 Breakthrough, A2 Waystage, or B1 Threshold) in each of the skill areas: Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing. For example, they may be on level B1 in Listening, A1 in Reading, A2 in Speaking, and A1 in Writing. For this reason, a generic plan that has all 4 skills at A1 level may not be useful. This plan allows you to only keep the long-term aims and targets for the level the child is working at, as indicated by their PSAK result e.g. if they are at level B1 in Listening, then you delete the long term aims and targets for levels A1 and A2 in Listening. If they are at level A1 in Reading, then delete the long term aims and targets for levels A2 and B1 in Reading etc.
Furthermore, usually children with EAL only begin working on reading and writing skills from First Class onwards. Therefore, you may have some older children who need these skills included in their EAL long-term plan, and younger children who do not. For children in the infant classes, you can delete the reading and writing aims and targets and only keep the listening and speaking ones.
Finally, as children progress through their EAL instruction, they may reach the target level of B1.3 in some areas e.g. listening and speaking, but not in reading and writing. In this case, you will be creating a plan with only aims and targets relating to the areas where they have not reached the B1.3 level.
All of these scenarios, mean that you will need to create EAL plans that are slightly different for each child. I have created this template plan as the fastest way to be able to do this, as all of the content that you need is already included. So rather than having to copy and paste information into a new document which is very time consuming, you simply click and delete the sections in this plan that are not needed for that particular child.
Check out our demo on Instagram showing how quickly and easily an EAL plan with personalised targets and vocabulary can be created for each student using our EAL IEP.
What about short term planning?
For short term planning, a similar template to what is used for SET teachers works well, with additional headings added in to allow for the use of the Up and Away EAL Curriculum and the 2021 Guidance on Preparation for Teaching and Learning. We have a template and sample plan available here.
We also have editable EAL short term sample completed plans for the year available here.
How can I do the cuntas míosúil?
A cuntas míosúl is simply a record of the work you have covered with your students for the previous month. The easiest way to do a cuntas míosúil is to tick or mark what you have covered on your short-term plans, and to write a short reflection. There is space on our EAL short term planning template for you to do this.
Are there any other resources/ supports available for EAL teachers?
There is an excellent podcast episode on EAL teaching from Anseo.net that you can listen to here.
The English Language Support Teachers’ Association of Ireland also have a website and a Facebook page which offers support to Irish EAL teachers.