English as an Additional Language

English as an Additional Language

Our school’s EAL Department is committed to supporting all students whose native language is not English, by ensuring they have full access to the curriculum taught, and are confidently progressing with their English language skills in all areas. Our program also strives to educate our whole community about the language acquisition process, as well as our philosophy and methodology for teaching language through content. We believe that the English language unites our community, and that learning it is a lifelong process for everyone.


At ISL, we believe that by modeling our own language learning, facilitating a school culture that values persistence and progress rather than perfection, we are able to create a comfortable environment for studying and mastering new languages.  Students are challenged in each class to communicate well, take appropriate risks, show caring, and be respectful. Through these key elements of the IB Learner Profile, it is possible for all students to thrive as language learners. At each level, we believe a student’s native language needs to be maintained for heritage and literacy purposes. A strong foundation in one’s native language is the best scaffold on which to build learning in other languages.


The ultimate aim of our EAL program is to provide just enough support to learners of English so they may continue in their academic development across the whole curriculum. Upon matriculating at ISL, students are evaluated for English language level and proficiency in the domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Together with a thorough review of their application for admission, previous school records, an informal interview, and in most cases, completion of the  Oxford Online Placement Test(for ages 11+) or theIDEA Language Proficiency Test (IPT) (for ages 5-10),  a determination is made to place students into our EAL support program. We have determined that most of our students are able to be independent and successful academically in their content classes when they reach at least a B2-C1 level of written proficiency. Our aim is to support and monitor each individual student through their language development until they are able to fully demonstrate their knowlege in all content areas in the English language.  There are two models of language support that English learners receive, depending on individual needs, either “push-in” or “pull-out”. Students with lower proficiency will start out in pull-out classes, then move to push-in, and finally exit our program when their EAL and content teachers determine they are fully capable to be independently successful.  

EAL Pull-out Classes

In Grades 1 to 10, in order to be successful across the curriculum in academics, additional English language support is warranted for certain students. These students attend  English language support classes in place of studying Language B in the International Baccalaureate framework. These classes take the form of intensive and tailored language instruction, plus support for learning of other academic material within a small group setting. The EAL department works with teachers and students in and out of the regular classes, adapting to various individual needs. Such EAL support is intended to give students an intensive, shorter-term boost toward academic language proficiency in English. Each Spring term, all EAL pull-out students are reassessed, using various assessment data including testing and teacher evaluations to determine their needs for English language support in the following year. Students gradually transition from small group “pull-out” support to “push-in” support in classes to full independent learning. Students who exit the EAL program continue to be monitored to ensure that they are thriving and successful at making academic gains.

EAL Push-in (co-teaching)

The EAL specialist joins the content teacher in the regular classroom and assists both the teacher and students  in adapting the delivery of the content to support English language learners in that classroom. Thus, language learning is contextualized into academic content. Students learn grammar, syntax, and academic vocabulary through genuine classroom contexts in each of their classes as a result of careful preparation and planning, with integrated co-teaching.

A Note about Language Acquisition

On average, language acquisition research consistently shows that it takes seven to nine years to learn a new language proficiently in both social and academic contexts. The WIDA Guiding Principles for Language Development show how firmly rooted the EAL philosophy is the academic and research-based work on language learning. As teachers and parents, we need to remember to be patient with our students. We should look for steady progress rather than leaps forward. As students will often be exhausted when they begin this process, providing breaks at school and extra sleep at home are crucial components to their success. It is important to note that learners often experience a period of silence and varying emotional stages associated with being immersed in a language new to them. With patience, time, and practice, progress is sure to come.

Click here for a list of things you can do at home to support your child’s English language learning.

If you have any questions about ISL’s EAL program, please feel free to contact the coordinator, vkozel@isl.edu.lv or any of the EAL specialists listed below. 

Meet Our Team!

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Jason Melgaard, EAL Teacher


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Zaiga Miķelsone, EAL Teacher


Cathie Turek, EAL Teacher


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Rita Vaciete, EAL Teacher



Online Language Resources for Students & Parents

Below are a variety of EAL study and learning materials. Many of these also include learning tips and techniques for improving overall reading and learning.

For Young Students and Beginning Learners:

For Older Students of All Levels:

  • ESL Gold http://www.eslgold.com/ has a wide array of online practice activities and exercises.

  • Dave’s ESL Café http://www.eslcafe.com/ offers many resources to help, including every student’s favourite phrasal verbs, slang and grammar tips. You can also engage in the forum with other English language students and practice your English by joining in with one of the many discussions.

  • The Learn English Site from the British Council http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/ offers downloadable podcasts, games, academic writing help and an IELTS section.  You can also download free apps for your iPhone or iPad.

  • ESL Pointhttp://www.eslpoint.comoffers graded help in all the skills.  There are many online practice exercises with clear explanations.  There is also a TOEFL/TOEIC section with online material and quizzes.

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