Using the teaching and learning cycle with EAL/D learners

The teaching and learning cycle allows EAL/D students the time and opportunities for multiple exposures to new language, content and skills over time. Students learn, practise and develop new language and concepts in different areas of the Victorian curriculum.

For more information on the teaching and learning cycle, see: teaching and learning cycle and VicTESOL’s Teaching and Learning Cycle Project.

For more information on multiple exposures, see: High impact teaching strategies (HITS)

Planning the teaching and learning cycle for EAL/D students' specific needs

Planning for the teaching and learning cycle (TLC) allows the teacher to focus on key content, language and literacy, and to establish the foundation for resourceful and responsive teaching. Teachers consider the model texts to use in the TLC and what additional support their EAL/D learners may need in order to access the content or participate in the learning activities.

The EAL Curriculum helps teachers to determine what students are ready to learn from an English language acquisition perspective. It provides a language overlay when the teacher is planning for the content in the unit of work for the TLC. For example, a student on EAL Level A1 who is consistently writing simple sentences to describe their own experience may be supported to write beyond the immediate context and beyond known language in order to move to Level A2.

In planning what EAL/D students need to achieve, the teacher:

  • prioritises content and language outcomes
  • determines an end goal that contains both content and language outcomes, for example, at the end of the TLC, the students will be able to write an explanation about how sudden geological changes can affect the earth’s surface
  • identifies the language (texts, structures and vocabulary) that students will need to use in order to effectively demonstrate the learning outcomes
  • analyses the language and literacy demands of the unit, for example, understanding metaphors and similes.

In considering what EAL/D students bring to their learning, the teacher:

  • identifies the students’ existing knowledge, experiences, potential gaps in content and English knowledge and skills
  • considers the range of multilingual repertoires amongst the group of students and how they can be used to build knowledge of language and content
  • considers how to utilise the range of perspectives and experiences students bring to the topic
  • considers how home languages can be used to enhance specific learning or outcomes, for example to access content or facilitate group interactions.

In reviewing or identifying resources to use during the TLC, the teacher:

  • audits the resources available, including visual or concrete materials and any specific EAL/D resources
  • analyses the demands on reading, listening, speaking, writing, viewing or using ICT placed on EAL/D students throughout the TLC.

Model texts

The TLC involves explicit teaching about language choices in different text types. Model texts can be modified or even created by the teacher to emphasise the key features of a text type. The content and language can then be tailored so that it is within the zone of proximal development for EAL/D students.

When selecting or preparing a model text:

  • ensure that the topic in the text is familiar content to the students
  • ensure the text includes the key structural and linguistic features of the genre that students are learning
  • consider what a finished student task will look like. Does the model text demonstrate assessment criteria?
  • collect different examples of the same text type about the same topic to compare and evaluate their effectiveness as models of the text type. Students use the metalanguage which has been developed through explicit teaching and modelling as they compare and discuss the texts and analyse these texts against assessment criteria.

Building the context or field

EAL/D students could have no prior knowledge of topic-specific language and content, and will need to develop both at the same time. To build the field or context with EAL/D students:

  • use visual materials to support brainstorming relevant topic-specific vocabulary, especially if the concepts are abstract
  • elicit students’ prior knowledge including conceptual understanding and vocabulary associated with the topic. The teacher might ask whether the EAL/D learners already know the vocabulary in their home language
  • support students’ to use their home languages to discuss and explore new vocabulary. This may lead to more precise understanding of new concepts and vocabulary
  • capture and record hands on activities such as taking photographs of experiments and excursions. The photographs are then used to create a resource that can be reviewed at different stages of the TLC
  • provide students with materials they can study with their families, for example, home language versions of texts or videos
  • support students to research and gather information presented in home languages. There may be community experts who can speak with students in various languages about the class topic. Students can then translate the information and participate in class discussions using English.

Modelling the text (or text deconstruction)

During the text deconstruction stage, EAL/D students closely examine the structural organisation and language choices in the model text. EAL/D learners may be supported to draw on knowledge of their home language to participate in discussions about the model texts.

Text deconstruction helps EAL/D students by using model texts to:

  • explore how the language features in a text are determined by the social purpose and the target audience
  • identify and revise the text structures and language features used in different text types
  • develop the students’ metalanguage to describe, analyse and talk about language
  • provide a context for developing and extending the students’ knowledge and understanding of grammar
  • provide a framework which students can refer to when writing independently.

Ensure that students understand the content of the text before beginning the deconstruction phase so that the focus is on examining the text structure and language choices.

The teacher may also pre teach the metalanguage required for discussing the text, such as structural features (e.g. an orientation) and linguistic features (e.g. sequence words) of the text, as well as language for appraising the text or for students to explain the effect of author choices.

Some ideas for modelling the text structure and organisation:

  • teach students how the text is organised and the functions of different parts . Create an anchor chart with the students that summarises the information needed to create a similar text
  • students reorganise and sequence a cut up model of a text
  • highlight or label examples (in English or home languages) of the text structure and the purpose of each section in sample texts, for example, statements of position, series of arguments, and the concluding statement in an exposition
  • identify the names of the various organisational elements, such as sub-headings, paragraphs and topic sentences, and discuss their purposes
  • create a flow chart for a procedural text or an explanation to reflect the steps or the stages in a text. Students match sequencing words such as ‘firstly’, ‘then’ and ‘finally’ to each step or stage.

Some ideas for modelling the language features of different genres:

  • examine models of texts and highlight examples of the linguistic features of the text, for example, text connectives such as ‘therefore’ and ‘consequently’ in an argument to show cause and effect
  • complete cloze activities that focus on specific language features of a text type, for example, imperatives in a procedural text, adverbial phrases of time or place in a recount
  • complete dictation activities focusing on the organisational structure and language features of a text type, for example, sub-headings, paragraphs or present tense
  • identify topic-specific vocabulary or examples of technical language within a text
  • when students examine and annotate texts, they may draw on their home language resources to do this, particularly if working with same language peers
  • use abridged texts or versions written for younger learners involving simpler language and supporting images, or spoken or viewed versions of the text.

Guided practice (or joint construction)

Guided practice, or joint construction, follows on from the text deconstruction stage. In joint construction, the teacher guides and scaffolds the EAL/D students through questions, thinking aloud and explanations as they write the text together. EAL/D students are able to engage when they are familiar with the content, language and genre which is the focus of the joint construction. Guided practice is best used with small groups to allow each EAL/D student the opportunity to participate and collaborate. The teacher acts as a scribe and the students contribute content and language.

Guided practice supports EAL/D students’ writing through:

  • modelling writing conventions and behaviours (thinking aloud and discussing language choices, using dictionaries and other language resources, using knowledge of languages, translation and other multilingual skills in writing)
  • providing a context for students to learn and talk about the structures and features of different text types
  • supporting students to understand how purpose and audience impact on language choices
  • scaffolding the students through the writing process
  • supporting students to write a text that they might not be able to write independently
  • providing a model for students to use for independent writing.

Depending on the language proficiency of the students, the writing task could be limited to reordering ideas or completing a cloze activity based on the model text. The students write about a different protagonist (male to female) or change the setting (Australian bush to a Sumatran jungle). This allows students to focus on specific language features without having to consider new sentence structures. More advanced EAL/D learners may be able to rewrite entire texts with the teacher’s support.

Independent composition

During independent composition, EAL/D students may also work in pairs to construct a text, or approach the teacher for further support. To scaffold EAL/D students, the teacher could:

  • break down the writing process (planning, drafting and editing) into distinct stages and ensure that students understand clearly what is expected of them at each stage. Use visuals which show the purpose, nature and skills required at the different stages. Ensure students understand the resources available to support them at each stage.
  • provide feedback to students at each stage of their independent construction, each time focussing on a limited number of features linked to their individual learning goals and/or the jointly constructed success criteria. This way, students have multiple opportunities to improve and develop their writing.
    Aspects to focus on at each stage might include:
    • planning: text structure and ideas
    • drafting: sentence construction and vocabulary
    • editing: spelling and punctuation.
  • involve family members in EAL/D students’ writing. Collaboration with family members can help students develop ideas and inject family and cultural knowledge into their writing. For example, cooking together with a parent can provide the content for a recipe text, or listening to a story from a grandparent can provide inspiration for a narrative. EAL/D students can also practise and develop interpreting and translation skills through this process, which develops proficiency in all their languages
  • consider creating a template based on the model text for students in the early stages of learning English to use in the writing of their own texts. It might include sentence starters or be a cloze text format.

Evaluation and feedback on EAL/D students’ learning

After the TLC, an assessment and evaluation of the students’ content and language learning feeds back into planning for the next unit of work and a new TLC. The subsequent TLC could focus on learning the language required for writing a different genre, and could be taught through a different learning area, for example writing an exposition as part of the Civics and Citizenship curriculum.

To evaluate EAL/D students’ learning, the teacher:

  • conducts formal or informal assessment of the learning. The students may reflect and self-evaluate. The evaluation may focus on how well students have learned English language and literacy skills, subject content, and subject-specific skills. EAL/D students may also reflect on using their home language and literacy as part of the learning process
  • assesses students’ ability to use English in speaking and listening, reading and viewing, and writing. Students might progress at different rates in the different language modes. Once a student reaches the achievement standard in one language mode, refer to the next level within that mode to identify future language learning goals
  • considers what kind of feedback helps EAL/D students to understand their progress, and helps them to identify the next steps for learning English and subject content.

The teacher might support the students to consider what learning activities supported their learning. Students may:

  • identify tasks and activities that were successful in helping them reach particular learning goals
  • suggest future activities and learning based on what they know about their next steps in learning
  • provide feedback on which modifications and support tools best helped them to access the content or develop their academic and English skills
  • contribute to evaluation through group discussions, surveys and scaffolded reflection tasks.

For more information on assessment for EAL learners, see: Tools to Enhance Assessment Literacy for Teachers of EAL

Using the teaching and learning cycle with EAL/D learners to navigate and create multimodal texts

Walsh et al. (2015) argue that ‘multimodality offers communicative possibilities that cut across verbal/linguistic barriers’ and that ‘multimodal pedagogies can serve as the platform on which language development may be successfully scaffolded’ (p.74).

The teaching and learning cycle supports EAL/D students to understand and create different types of multimodal texts, including paper-based, live or digital. They combine at least two modes to communicate, and make meaning from different written, visual and multimodal texts.

Creating multilingual multimodal texts

EAL/D learners’ capacity to create multilingual multimodal texts depend on their level of proficiency in their home language and the scaffold provided to create the English at each stage of the teaching learning cycle.

  • Building the context or field – having a shared understanding of the topic scaffolds the construction of a multilingual multimodal text. Build the context or field by using a familiar text in English or a familiar story from students’ culture translated into English. Support students to brainstorm relevant home language vocabulary and phrases related to the text. For example, in creating a slideshow presentation of the Very Hungry Caterpillar, students brainstorm the vocabulary for the fruits or the days of the week in their home language.
  • Modelling the text (or deconstruction) – for older EAL/D learners, examples of multilingual multimodal texts can be used for deconstructing and comparing how texts from different cultures convey information. EAL/D students can be asked to analyse and report on visual, linguistic and cultural differences in multimodal texts.
  • Guided practice (or joint construction) – the teacher jointly constructs the English in the multimodal text with the students. All students can discuss and contribute ideas about which parts of the multimodal text could be in another language. The EAL/D student informs the rest of the class about what is feasible/advantageous in the other language, for example, whether they should use specific vocabulary translated from their home language to emphasise a point. Using the example of the Very Hungry Caterpillar, the students could consider whether the home language vocabulary should be integrated into the English text, or whether it works better in the illustrations.
  • Independent construction - the resources and scaffolds used in other stages of the teaching and learning cycle can support students to compose a multimodal text. EAL/D learners might work in same language groups or pairs or with the support of bilingual staff or family members. At this stage the teachers helps the students to develop a clear scaffold or template for each multilingual section of the text. Students also use additional print or online resources to create home language sections of the text.

For more information, see: Creating multimodal texts and Multilingual multimodal texts and EAL/D learners


Walsh, M., Durrant, C., & Simpson, A. (2015). Moving in a Multimodal Landscape: Examining 21st Century Pedagogy for Multicultural and Multilingual Students. English in Australia, 50(1), 67-76.