EAL Department (English as an Additional Language)
St Gregory the Great is a multicultural, multilingual school. Almost 45% of our students speak one or more languages other than English. They come from approximately 50 countries around the world and speak approximately 80 different languages. Our staff too is also multilingual, speaking 25 languages as first languages in addition to English. This great diversity means that we often have students arriving from other countries for a variety of reasons. Some come for a short time with parents who have been posted; others come to make new lives. This diversity also means that St Gregory needs and has a strong EAL Department.
The EAL Resource Base
Students who arrive in a new country have to deal with a new culture and a new language. They need both pastoral and language support at school in order to begin the process of acculturation and formal education. In the EAL Department our aim is to decrease the stress of transition, and to integrate students into our school community. To this end, we create a ‘home away from home’ in the EAL Resource Base, a place which is ‘Open all hours’ for all.
Our multilingual EAL teachers are always available for students who can come at any time for help before, during, and after school. New arrivals become part of the EAL ‘Family’. They are welcomed by EAL staff, same language speakers, and other recently arrived students from countries around the world, who help them get around, access lessons, and make friends. In addition to attending dedicated English language lessons in the EAL Resource Base, our students can do homework, eat lunch, and socialise.
English Language Teaching & Exams
Students respond well to our integrated program of English language learning which involves small group lessons, electronic media, regular homework, and testing. In addition, our multi-discipline staff have taught English, Modern Foreign Languages, Science, R.E. and Geography. They therefore have the expertise to help prepare students for tests and GCSE exams in these subjects. To recently arrived students from abroad who need English support, the EAL Department offers up to 2 GCSE options by invitation, and prepares students for the IGCSE ESL (English as a Second Language) exam.
We also help students prepare for GCSE and A Level exams in their first languages. Research shows that students who continue to develop literacy in their first language obtain better results in the English curriculum. The languages offered after school to first-language speakers include Italian, Polish, Russian, and Spanish. We also support students who wish to sit exams in Chinese, Czech, Dutch, Hindi, Japanese, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, and Urdu. For the latter group we find past papers to practise and adult native speakers who can assess their written language.
Once a week after school ten A* Sixth Formers from Magdalen College School come to St Gregory the Great to support the learning of our EAL students, and also to help them have fun by playing educational games. In this way, learning and social skills are developed by their peers.
Volunteers & Jacari
We are very fortunate to have a small group of volunteers who give generously of their time to support a number of our students in a one-to-one setting during the school day. Equally important, is the support of the Oxford charity, Jacari, whose volunteers from both Oxford universities help targeted students with English and other subjects once a week in the comfort of their own homes.
EAL & Oxford University
The EAL Department has been recognised by Oxford University. For the past five years, we have given EAL sessions to their trainee teachers at the Department of Education. In turn, we have also hosted EAL Days here at St Gregory the Great for numerous groups of PGCE interns. Our EAL students themselves play an important role in both of these events.
New staff Induction
Every year we have an EAL Induction Program for new staff. This consists of three parts: 1) an EAL presentation & workshop, 2) the observation of an EAL lesson and 3) the observation of the new staff member’s subject lesson. This allows new teachers feel more at ease teaching in our multicultural school.
Every year, the EAL Department organises Refugee Week, which occurs during the week of 20 June to highlight the plight of refugees around the word. We organise speakers from organisations such as Refugee Resource and the Red Cross to speak in assemblies, and provide awareness activities for departments.