Drawing on the research evidence and best practice, Dr Ruth Wilson advises on supporting advanced bilingual learners to develop the necessary academic writing skills

Research has established that although learners who use English as an additional language (EAL) usually achieve conversational fluency relatively quickly, it takes considerably longer for them to acquire academic language – on average five to seven years if they have appropriate support (Cummins, 1980; Thomas & Collier, 2002).

The ability to use academic language appropriately, i.e. in a manner suitable for the task and audience, is vital for all learners to achieve their potential. As such the techniques and strategies in this article may have relevance for all pupils.

The term “advanced bilingual learners” (ABLs) has been defined by Ofsted (2005) as: “Pupils who have had all or most of their school education in the UK and whose oral proficiency in English is usually indistinguishable from that of pupils with English as a first language but whose writing may still show distinctive features related to their language background.”

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