What is the Main Goal of EAL?

Six months ago, I wrote an article which clearly reflected how confused I was with EAL teaching and learning. As I am learning more and more about the world of EAL, I thought of sharing my thoughts and what I have been learning.


My Grade 2 students sharing how they could improve their English skills

What is the main goal of EAL. Answering this, I thought that a more conceptual approach to this question is asking what is the goal of learning any language anyway? There are multiple answers to this question- we can go from the most practical to the most scholarly ones. But simply put, I have come to understand that the goal is to communicate and understand meaning.

‘Learning the meaning of things’ is not quite a simple task to do- not for the teacher, not for the student. This involves learning within a context, culture, certain expressions or words that could have multiple meanings, slang and basically understanding people’s way of life. The meaning of words and phrases develop with time, technology and even with how ‘playful’ people could be. It could be highly subjective and reveals multiple realities—this, by the way, shouldn’t be seen as a problem, but an evidence of how fascinating language could be.

So I say that learning the meaning of things requires constructivism within authentic experiences, a sense of immersion, a sense of imagination. I know a lot of teachers now are aware that language learning  requires more than the rigidity of forms, structures, grammar and skills development. However, more stress should be placed upon understanding that the essentials of language learning involve global awareness and values, such as empathy, open-mindedness and risk-taking. Therefore, as a language teacher, the goal is to help my students use language (in any form) to adapt to both typical and unique situations, to express, to understand, and most of all, to belong. I didn’t really expect that I’d end up with a ‘world peace’ kind of answer to this question, but in retrospect, much of the hostility in the world do stem from miscommunication.

As an additional language teacher, I strive for meaning and use a realistic and relevant contexts to teach language features, structures and skills. Value local and global perspectives in our classrooms so our students will come to realise that learning any language will help them see the world differently.

‘A different language is a different vision of life.’ – Federico Fellini






  1. Hi Katrina!
    Very interesting blog. Are you currently having your own PYP planner for EAL or do you use the class planner and adapt it to your lessons?
    Best regards,

    Luciana Jhones (Sweden)


    1. Hi Luciana! Well in each grade level, our students are grouped according to English ‘abilities’. For Abilities A & B, we have a separate EAL planner. For Ability C (‘intermediate to fluent’ group), their program is integrated with the UOI, so we include our engagements and reflections in the UOI planner, shared with the homeroom teachers. However, in all abilities, we strive to make connections with their UOI, mostly through vocabulary building and skills development. How about in your school?


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