Language table

Language table

Key language skills for EAL/D

The key language skills described below provide a focus for language instruction in any unit at students’ point of need and should be taught in context and if relevant. Students should be given the opportunity to develop and demonstrate these skills in a variety of contexts. By the time students have completed Unit 4, they should be proficient in these language skills. This table is not an exhaustive list; rather, it is a guide to focus teachers on some essential skills that students should develop.

Phonological features:

  • pronunciation, stress, rhythm, intonation and pitch for emphasis
  • phonemes and morphemes.

Non-verbal language features:

  • using culturally appropriate gestures and behaviours.

Orthographic competence:

  • using punctuation as required
  • spelling subject-specific vocabulary correctly
  • using subject-specific abbreviations, signs and symbols
  • understanding common logographic signs
  • distinguishing and using print, cursive and diverse fonts.

Lexical competence:

  • gradually increasing a word bank of vocabulary in SAE, for example subject-specific vocabulary
  • understanding and using metalanguage correctly
  • using discourse markers, for example, for showing cause and effect
  • understanding and using collocations, idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms
  • using synonyms and antonyms as required
  • using lexical chains to achieve cohesion
  • choosing vocabulary appropriate to purpose and audience
  • using descriptive, rhetorical and persuasive language
  • understanding and using formulaic and fixed expressions and collocations
  • understanding proverbs
  • understanding word order within clauses and sentences.

Grammatical competence:

  • clause and sentence structure
  • questioning (including rhetorical questioning)
  • types of verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, articles, prepositions and affixes
  • verb structures and tenses
  • modality
  • voice (active, passive)
  • clause type (declarative, interrogative, imperative and exclamative)
  • nominalisation
  • additive, comparative, temporal and consequential conjunctions
  • use of correct noun-verb agreement
  • negative questioning
  • direct and indirect speech
  • use of reference items to achieve cohesion.

Semantic competence:

  • listening for specific content
  • understanding and using words appropriate to the different semantic fields of SAE
  • identifying shifts in meaning according to syntax
  • identifying inferred meanings in texts
  • identifying ambiguous or inappropriate communication
  • using appraisal to express engagement, attitude and gradation
  • distinguishing between fact and opinion
  • understanding the SAE classification systems used in academic environments.

Sociolinguistic competence:

  • questioning for clarification as needed
  • negotiating meaning
  • understanding how language is used to persuade
  • experimenting with the register of texts (tone, language, audience)
  • initiating, sustaining and ending conversations in casual and formal contexts
  • identifying the organisation of thoughts and ideas within SAE texts (rhetorical patterns).

Sociocultural understanding:

  • identifying register variations between familiar, semi-formal and some formal contexts
  • recognising some common cultural references
  • recognising some irony and how humour is created
  • using culturally accepted politeness conventions in listening, speaking and written protocols
  • recognising cultural variations in acceptance of novice and expert knowledge
  • understanding cultural differences in eye contact and personal space
  • identifying cultural variations in symbolism, classification and gender behaviours.