English as an Additional Language or Dialect

The term ‘English as an Additional Language or Dialect' (EAL/D) is used in relation to Northern Territory learners who speak languages other than Standard Australian English (SAE) at home. About 40 per cent of Northern Territory school students speak languages other than SAE at home.

Standard Australian English is Australia’s national language. All students have the right:

  • to be taught to communicate effectively in Standard Australian English
  • to understand how the English language works
  • to think in and learn through English
  • to be given access to the cultural understandings that it carries.

While EAL/D learners already have an established first language as a base to acquire and learn from, the stages through which they develop SAE are different to those who are native speaking SAE learners in school. EAL/D learners require teaching approaches that build on the knowledge they already have as first language users and the knowledge they need as additional language learners.

EAL/D learners are not only learning SAE but are expected to learn in and through English across the curriculum. This means that all educators in Northern Territory schools are responsible for meeting the language learning needs of the EAL/D students in their classes.

The Catholic Education Office provides professional learning for teachers in supporting the language and learning needs of EAL/D learners and supports quality assessment through supporting schools in their moderation and validation of student achievement.

With the advent of the Australian Curriculum, a number of resource documents have also been developed to support equity of access to the curriculum for EAL/D students.


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