EAL (English as an Additional Language) – a sub-set of the BME cohort – describes those whose First language is not English.


Distinguishing this cohort from their monolingual peers recognises that many children learning English in schools in this country already know one or more languages, are adding English to that repertoire and are at various stages of acquiring bilingualism or multilingualism.

This definition of an EAL learner includes a wide range of learners from new arrivals who may have little or no English, or who may use a very different form of English (e.g. Nigerian Standard English) to learners who were born in the UK and speak fluent English as well as another language. So children and young people described as EAL learners range in terms of their English language development from ‘Beginners’ through to ‘Advanced learners’.


Assessment of EAL pupils’ proficiency in English – guidance on changes to DfE School and EY Census reporting.

As many of you will already be aware, in line with its 2016 Census guidelines, the DfE now requires schools to amend their admission documents and procedures to include country of birth and nationality and to make an assessment of the level of English language proficiency of all EAL learners and include this in their census returns.

See: Guidance on the assessment of EAL pupils’ proficiency in English’ 

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New to English (Beginner) learners

New arrivals or learners at an early stage of acquiring English will progress at very different rates according to their educational background and the effectiveness of the support they receive.

In terms of the DfE language proficiency descriptors, ‘Beginners’ would be equivalent to A (New to English) and B (Early acquisition).

Advanced EAL learners

Advanced bilingual learners are defined as pupils who have had all or most of their school education in the UK and whose oral proficiency in English is usually indistinguishable from that of pupils with English as a first language but whose writing may still show distinctive features related to their language background. In the DfE language proficiency descriptors.

Advanced bilingual learners would be those who are C (Developing Competence) D (Competent) and E (Fluent).



Guidance on the assessment of EAL pupils’ proficiency in English

Model EAL policy for schools


EAL Academy

British Council EAL Nexus Resources

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Collaborative Learning Project


EAL Journal

Multilingualism is integrative blog

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Upcoming EAL Networking events