English as an Additional Language (EAL)

EAL provision

Learn more about our EAL provision and the qualifications on offer, across our Senior School and Sixth Form.

Why St Mary's

For our international students and other girls whose first language is not English, we offer outstanding EAL provision as part of our curriculum, at no additional cost. Delivered by experienced teachers, our EAL lessons develop English vocabulary and grammar, as well as improving reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.

EAL provision is available across Senior School and Sixth Form

  • 6 x EAL lessons every two weeks Year 7 to 9
  • 7 x EAL lessons every two weeks Year 10 and 11
  • 5 x EAL lessons every two weeks Year 12 and 13

In Year 10 and 11, you can choose EAL as an alternative to studying English Language and English Literature GCSEs. We also offer an English Language Support (ELS) option, which focuses on supporting language skills to enable progress in your GCSE subjects.

EAL qualifications

Our English as an Additional Language lessons will prepare you for internationally recognised EAL qualifications from Cambridge English:

  • Year 10: Cambridge English: First
  • Year 11: Cambridge English: Advanced

Why Cambridge English

Year 10 provides a sound foundation for Year 11 and you will complete the Cambridge English: First qualification, giving evidence of your English language competency that is valid worldwide.

Passing the Cambridge English: Advanced qualification is an impressive achievement and a high C grade constitutes a university entrance qualification for many prestigious courses. It provides a challenging, enriching course that is an excellent foundation for A Level studies and it excellent preparation for the IELTS examination in Sixth Form.

Course overview

  • Year 10 students prepare for the upper-intermediate Cambridge English: First (also known as the First Certificate in English)
  • Year 11 students prepare for the Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) examination

In both courses you will develop your knowledge of English vocabulary and grammar and improve your reading, listening, writing and speaking skills.

In addition, every effort is made to develop an interest in the language and to provide a set of learning skills and a familiarity with useful, authoritative reference materials. This provides you with the tools and the desire to continue your language learning independently beyond these two years.

A textbook for each course is provided free of charge. This is supplemented with topical reading texts and listening and viewing materials. Students give presentations, take part in role play exercises, discuss a wide range of issues and write in a variety of different genres. Feedback is detailed and extensive, and students are expected to act upon this.


Year 10: The upper-intermediate Cambridge English: First qualification is taken in May or June.

  • 3 hours and 30 minutes of tests in reading and use of English (grammar and vocabulary), writing, listening and speaking.
  • In a 15-minute speaking examination, students undertake a number of tasks with a fellow candidate.

Year 11: Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) examination

  • 3 hours of written papers in reading and use of English and writing
  • 40-minute listening test
  • 15-minute speaking examination, taken in pairs.

Cambridge English scores

Cambridge Assessment now gives scores in terms of both a letter and a number on the Cambridge English scale (which makes it possible to compare them with IELTS scores), and universities now quote their requirements in this way. For instance, Oxford University and the Medical Faculty of Imperial College require 185 with a minimum of 176 in each paper; for Law, LSE requires 185 and a minimum of 185 points in each paper.

At a glance

Cambridge English website

Institutions accepting Cambridge English qualifications

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