English as an Additional Language
Head of Department – Mr Peter Stroud
EAL Teacher: Ms. Emma Small
Around 10% of Prior Park students are not native speakers of English. We typically have students from China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Thailand, Korea and many other countries. We are enormously proud of these students, who bring so much to the rich, fully-rounded education that is so much a part of the Prior experience.
Of course, one of the hardest things about being an international student is doing everything in another language. Our EAL teachers are not only highly qualified and experienced, but have also lived and worked in a variety of countries from South America to the Far East, so have first hand experience of living and working in another language.
EAL classes are dynamic and practical, focusing on the language that is most useful. We prepare students for IGCSE in English as a Second Language, as well as Cambridge PET, FIRST and CAE, as well as IELTS. EAL students also do a huge amount out of the classroom. One of the first events of the year is our international speaking competition, in which every international student gives a short speech in front of their peers. Three students are then selected to take part in the annual International Student Voice competition in which we compete against other schools. We celebrate cultures from around the world by holding assemblies, creating displays, offering teachers cookies and tea and a cultural chat. Themed meals are arranged by the catering department. Students are taken on a range of excursions throughout the year, which cover activities from ice-skating and theme parks to the London Dungeon and a Welsh coal mine.
IELTS (the International English Language Testing System) is the most common exam taken by international 6th formers to prove that their level of English is strong enough for entry into university.
The EAL department prepares students for this exam, which can be taken at various times in many places around the world. Prior Park international students generally take the exam at the University of Bath either just before Christmas or just before Easter.
There are four papers:
- Listening: a range of difficulty and topics including social conversation, educational discussion, an academic lecture (about 45 minutes)
- Reading: passages from books, journals, magazines and newspapers on a variety of academic topics (60 minutes)
- Writing: students have to describe a graph, diagram or process; they then have to write an essay in response to a point of view or argument (60 minutes)
- Speaking: after some general questions, the student will be given a topic to speak about for 1-2 minutes, which will then be the basis for more detailed discussion (11-14 minutes)
IELTS results are reported on a scale from 1.0 (‘non-user’) to 9.0 (‘expert user’). British universities generally require 6.5-7.0 (‘competent user’-‘good user’) for undergraduate admission.