Supporting EAL students in regional education contexts: “It creates a huge workload and often times disappointment”


  • Melissa Barnes Monash University, Australia
  • Seham Shwayli Monash University, Australia
  • Pamalee Matthews Department of Education and Training Victoria, Australia



EAL, regional schools, secondary schooling, mainstream teachers, beliefs, Bourdieu


There has been increasing attention on mainstream teacher beliefs on English as an Additional Language (EAL) students in their classrooms, particularly in regards to how these beliefs impact on teacher expectations and actions. With many teachers holding deficit beliefs towards EAL students, many have argued that professional development is one way to counter these beliefs. However, with a push for the regional settlement of migrants in Australia, there is limited understanding of mainstream teachers’ beliefs about EAL students in regional contexts. Drawing on Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus and field, this study investigates the beliefs of teachers and principals in two regional secondary schools in Victoria, Australia. The findings suggest that while many teachers hold common misconceptions regarding EAL students, their views regarding the inclusion of these students are generally positive and both the teachers and principals are open to additional training and support. However, the prevailing issue regarding supporting EAL students is time and/or timing—a commodity that both teachers and students do not have. This paper argues that EAL support in a regional context needs to be further interrogated, identifying a variety of approaches, such as professional development for mainstream teachers, additional EAL specialist support, and after-school programs, to better meet the needs of EAL students in regional areas.


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Author Biographies

  • Melissa Barnes, Monash University, Australia

    Dr Melissa Barnes is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Monash University working within the fields of teacher education, assessment, policy and TESOL. She teaches and leads research initiatives that focus on policy construction, interpretation and enactment, with a focus on how policies impact and shape teaching and learning. She has published in journals such as Critical Studies in Education, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education and English for Academic Purposes, among others.

  • Seham Shwayli, Monash University, Australia

    Dr Seham Shwayli recently finished her PhD at Monash University in 2015. She received her Master of Education in TESOL and Linguistics from Monash in 2010 and her Bachelor in Arts / English Education from Basra University, Iraq in 1996. Her PhD, “What Kind of Inclusion: Iraqi Muslim Women’s Experiences in Australia” focuses on social inclusion and challenges facing Muslim women and their families in Multicultural Australia.

  • Pamalee Matthews, Department of Education and Training Victoria, Australia

    Pamalee Matthews has been teaching for more than 30 years and has always been interested in furthering her studies and taking on new positions and roles. Seven years ago, she became involved in teaching English as an Additional Language. It has been the highlight of her career, particularly teaching English to refugees and new arrivals. Pamalee is passionate about improving the educational outcomes for EAL students in regional areas.


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How to Cite

Supporting EAL students in regional education contexts: “It creates a huge workload and often times disappointment”. (2019). TESOL in Context, 28(1), 45-64.
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