On this site:
- Cambridge titles recommended for use with ESOL and EAL learners, including ESOL Activities
- UK Adult ESOL Core Curriculum maps for:
- Practice Citizenship test: to help you to prepare for the Life in the UK test
- Lots more! See View All Resource Types on the left of your screen
What are ESOL and EAL?
Adults and children learning English who actually live in the UK or Ireland have different needs from those who are visiting these countries short-term specifically to learn English, who are considered more 'traditional' EFL learners.
These differing needs are reflected by the fact that the learners themselves have come to be described differently - 'visitors' are said to be studying EFL (English as a Foreign Language), while residents are referred to as ESOL learners if they're adults (English for Speakers of Other Languages) or EAL learners if they're under 16 (English as an Additional Language).
Many Cambridge ELT titles can be used in an ESOL or EAL environment. You can find out more about those that are especially suitable through the links on this page, as well as other essential resources, such as maps to the UK Basic Skills Agency Adult ESOL Core Curriculum.
Who are the learners?
There are four main categories of ESOL learner, all of whom should be over 16 years of age:
- Settled communities
- Refugees and asylum seekers
- Migrant workers, mostly from Europe
- Partners and spouses who are prevented from attending EFL courses because of family responsibilities or low income
- the children of the above
- children from overseas attending boarding school in the UK or Ireland
How does teaching ESOL differ from teaching EFL?
You may find yourself teaching multi-level, multi-nationality, multi-age classes.
There may be a wide range of educational and employment backgrounds in the class, so you may have learners who have had no formal schooling and are possibly illiterate in their own languages, sitting next to university professors - all of them waiting to be taught by you!
Some ESOL learners have left their country unwillingly and may be suffering post traumatic shock: for many, attending English class regularly is low on their list of priorities.
Learning requirements may be quite different from a standard EFL class: ESOL learners will want to know about life in the UK — for example, immigration rules, how the education and health systems work or how to apply for jobs.
How does teaching EAL differ from teaching EFL?
Some aspects are similar to those above but there are a few notable differences. The focus, of course, is on children learning their school subjects in this unfamiliar language and support is usually alongside their regular lessons. Materials that have cross-curricular relevance are therefore most useful.
Provision of EAL support varies quite a lot in different schools, and is influenced by how may EAL students there are in the school. Sometimes the teachers are experts in the field but sometimes the support is provided by non-specialists who need extra support themselves to do the job!
Being young and immersed in the language for much of their time, EAL students often learn English extremely fast but are usually stronger in listening and speaking skills than they are in reading and writing. They will typically get through the course materials very quickly and you may find supplementary materials particularly useful.
What is Skills for Life?
Skills for Life (launched in 2001) is the UK national strategy for improving adult literacy and numeracy skills. ESOL is one of the main strands of this strategy, and the national standards are set out in the UK's Adult ESOL Core Curriculum. This curriculum describes what should be taught in English language programmes and underpins the Cambridge ESOL Skills for Life Certificates that test the level of English attained.