User guide

Navigating the EAL Developmental Continuum P–10

The EAL Developmental Continuum P–10 will assist teachers to identify students’ current stage of English language development. This assessment can be used for reporting purposes and to plan for purposeful teaching for individuals and small groups of students with similar needs.

The EAL Developmental Continuum P–10 is structured around the Stages of the EAL Companion to AusVELS. Within this framework it provides:

  • indicators of progress – detailed descriptions of how students at the end of each stage typically use and learn English
  • progression profiles – 'nutshell' statements, describing how students' language typically appears at the beginning of each stage and as students progress through the stage.

The indicators of progress

Indicators of progress are provided for each of the three modes: Speaking and Listening, Reading and Viewing, and Writing, in four aspects of language development:

  • Texts and responses to texts:
    • This aspect focuses on the development of students' ability to produce and respond to spoken and written English texts used across the curriculum in the school context for social interaction.
  • Cultural understandings of language use:
    • This aspect relates to students' understandings of how different contexts affect the way English is used and interpreted. It is particularly concerned with appropriate use of English.
  • Linguistic structures and features:
    • This aspect is concerned with students' increasing control over the structures and features of English, from pronunciation and formation of individual sounds and letters, through word and sentence level to patterns of text structure.
  • Maintaining and negotiating communication:
    • This aspect is concerned with the strategies students use to learn English and to learn in English.

The indicators of progress will support teachers in deepening their understanding of student growth in English through research-based descriptors of achievement. It is important to note that they do not capture all aspects of learning within a mode and students may not demonstrate all the indicators, yet will still be assessed as having achieved the stage. Sometimes, an indicator will describe what learners will typically not yet be able to do at a particular stage, as well as what learners can usually be expected to have achieved.

The indicators of progress support purposeful teaching by informing teachers of the progress students should be making and the types of learning and teaching experiences appropriate for further progress to occur. In this context teachers will use the indicators of progress as part of their ongoing assessment and monitoring.

The progression profiles

The progression profiles provide short 'nutshell' descriptions of student development at the beginning of each stage, and as students progress through the stage. The progression profiles for these points within the stages do not have indicators of progress.

Work samples

Annotated samples of spoken and written texts are provided which illustrate the sequential and progressive nature of English as an additional language development. These samples will be helpful in deciding where on the continuum to place students. However, it must be stressed that decisions about where to place a student should be made based on ongoing assessment, and on the analysis of many language and work samples and knowledge of students' backgrounds and educational experiences.

Using the EAL Continuum

The EAL Continuum elaborates on the ESL Companion to AusVELS, and broadens teachers' understandings of the EAL standards. It is likely to be most effective when used to validate an initial assessment of a student's progress made using the EAL AusVELS standards. To use the EAL Continuum effectively, it is best read with a specific student in mind. Teachers can determine the most appropriate level of student understanding in each of the modes through an on-balance judgement, and use this as the entry point into the resource.

The challenge for all teachers is to accurately identify where a student is located on the learning continuum and to design learning experiences which enable all students to make progress.


The EAL Developmental Continuum P–10 was developed by a team of English as an additional language researchers, led by Dr Michèle de Courcy from the University of Melbourne. Members of the team, who have considerable experience in teaching, researching and assessing EAL were:

  • Ms Carmel Sandiford - Project Manager
  • Professor Patrick Griffin
  • Dr Michele de Courcy
  • Dr Russell Cross

In developing the EAL Continuum, as well as original research, the team drew upon the following documents:

  • Annandale, K. et al. (2004). First steps reading resource book: Addressing current literacy challenges. Port Melbourne: Harcourt
  • Board of Studies (1996). ESL Companion to the English CSF. Carlton, Vic.: Board of Studies.
  • Board of Studies (2000). ESL Companion to the English CSF: Curriculum and Standards Framework II. Carlton, Vic.: Board of Studies.
  • Directorate of School Education (1996). ESL course advice. Stages B1 (Beginner) and BL (Preliterate), Middle/upper primary students, new to learning English. Melbourne : Community Information Service, Directorate of School Education.
  • Griffin, P. Smith, P. G. and Martin, L. (2003). Profiles in English as a Second Language. Clifton Hill, Vic.: Robert Andersen & Associates.
  • McKay, P. (1993). ESL development: Language and Literacy in Schools. Canberra: NLLIA.
  • University of the State of New York, New York State Education Department and Office of Bilingual Education. (2004). The teaching of language arts to limited English Proficient English language learners: Learning standards for English as a second language. Albany, NY: New York State Education Department. Available from New York State Education Department Office of Bilingual Education (
  • Northern Territory Department of Employment, Education and Training. (2008). Northern Territory Curriculum Framework: English as a Second Language. Darwin: Northern Territory Government. Available from Northern Territory Department of Employment, Education and Training (
  • Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (2005) English as a Second Language (ESL) Companion to the Victorian Essential Learning Standards. East Melbourne, Vic.: VCAA. 

The Continuum was developed in consultation with the following staff from the Department.

Janet Saker, Ruth Crilly, Kelly Juriansz and Daina Coles.

We also wish to acknowledge the participation of EAL Regional Program Officers and teachers from the following Victorian schools, who attended the validation workshops for the profiles and standards, and provided and helped to moderate some of the samples of written and oral language.

  • Blackburn English Language School
  • Braybrook Secondary College
  • Brunswick English Language Centre
  • Chandler Secondary College
  • Collingwood English Language School
  • Dandenong North Primary School
  • Fitzroy Primary School
  • Glen Waverley Primary School
  • Maribyrnong Secondary College
  • Maroondah Secondary College
  • Mullauna Secondary College
  • Noble Park English Language School
  • North Melbourne Primary School
  • St Albans Secondary College
  • St Gabriel's Primary School Reservoir
  • Werribee Secondary College
  • Western English Language School
  • Woodville Primary School