The Intensive English Language Centre is an intensive language and literacy program for newly arrived children on Permanent or Temporary visas in Years Reception to 7. It prepares the students to attend a mainstream class in their local school and for living in Australia.

Bellevue Heights Intensive English Language Centre classes operate independently of the Mainstream classes but come together for shared whole school events.


Students are eligible to come to the primary Intensive English Language Centre if:

  • They are permanent or temporary residents.
  • They are of school age (5-13 years) and have been in Australia less than one year.
  • They are Junior Primary school age children and have been in Australia less than 18 months.

Teaching Principles

The course provides students with:

  • Real and meaningful activities so that students can develop their use of English for everyday tasks at school and in the community e.g.
    • cooking, shopping, using public transport
    • using public facilities like the library
    • excursions, visiting the zoo, beach, the market, parks etc.
    • swimming lessons
  • Content which also includes problem solving such as:
    • interactive science
    • investigative maths
    • research studies
  • A variety of activities which reflect the range of language use in speaking, reading and writing for specific purposes, e.g.
    • write procedures for how to do or make something
    • recount (or retell) a story or personal experience orally and in writing
    • write up a science or social studies report
    • write an imaginative narrative (story)

Integration with Mainstream Classes

The classes in the Program are an integral part of Bellevue Heights Primary School. There are many joint class and school activities. Programs which encourage the integration of IELC classes with Mainstream classes e.g. activity, reading, art, music, physical education and excursions are encouraged.

Language Learning

(from Early Literacy and the ESL Learner)

“…young children learn language quickly…(for) basic communication….Difficulties can occur when children (need) the language of learning….(There is a) difference between the informal language of basic communication and the language of learning…there are about two different levels of language ability-

  • Basic interpersonal communicative skills –‘survival’ language…children can interact…join in…
  • Cognitive Linguistic Proficiency – use language to reason, to hypothesise, to discuss abstract ideas, and to cope with…information…as is presented…in school textbooks (Makin et al 1995:85).

It is important for the child’s future education that they are confident in both oral and written English before exiting to a mainstream class.

Parental Involvement

Parental involvement is welcomed. Please contact either the Assistant Principal, IELC or class teacher to discuss any matters.

Length of Course

The time required by students to learn oral and written English to participate effectively in mainstream classes varies considerably and depends on many factors.

Organisation of the Program

  • Optimum sizes of classes are 15 students.
  • Classes are established on the basis of age and previous schooling.
  • Programming is adapted to meet students’ needs.

Curriculum Content

The Intensive English Language Program Curriculum

  • Covers all areas of required study.
  • Has an explicit English focus.
  • Focuses on the range of language – interpersonal, informational and aesthetic.
  • Is activity and skills based, providing real experiences

Bilingual School Support Officers, Interpreters and Community Liaison Officers are employed, as available, to assist children to adjust to the new school environment and to assist in their language development. They are employed on language needs and may also assist in the transition from the Intensive English Language Program to the mainstream class.

Assessment & Reporting

Assessment is ongoing and is used to monitor students’ development. Students are also encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and become independent learners. Students’ work is sent home regularly so that parents can also be involved in their children’s learning.

Exit Procedures

Towards the end of each term, the teacher will assess students’ progress and consult with parents if their child is ready to exit into a mainstream class. A transition procedure will help parents to enrol children in the future school and arrange for the student to visit their new class.

For further information please contact Birgit Lucas, IELCAssistant Principal


Bilingual School Support Interpreters and Community Liaison Officers