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AFTV/FATFA Conference 26 July 2014. Dr David Howes Executive Director, Curriculum Division Le tour. https:// So why bother?. See and understand the world through a different lens Broad cognitive benefits

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aftv fatfa conference 26 july 2014

AFTV/FATFA Conference26 July 2014

Dr David Howes

Executive Director, Curriculum Division


Le tour


So why bother?

  • See and understand the world through a different lens
  • Broad cognitive benefits
  • Australia arguably the most difficult country in the world to achieve/maintain bilingualism – all the more important to maintain the effort

Victorian context

  • By 2015 100% of government schools providing a Foundation level languages program
  • By 2025 100% of government schools providing a languages program and awarding the new Certificate of Language Proficiency at Year 10
  • By 2025 25% of all students in government and non-government schools include a language in addition to English in their senior secondary program of study
  • Victorian government languages plan:
  • Introduction of VCE (Baccalaureate)

Victorian context

  • French remains a key language
  • French one of only 4 languages where there is a government-to-government MoU
  • Asian languages a priority to ensure access and opportunity, European languages remain important
  • A both-and rather than either-or construct

Victorian context

  • Commonwealth government review of Australian Curriculum
  • Given the responsibility of States and Territories for implementation of the Australian Curriculum, how should we best use the development of the Australian Curriculum for Languages to improve student learning?
  • Curriculum only one among many variables
    • Teacher supply
    • Teaching and learning resources
    • School timetabling
    • Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation
  • A necessary but not sufficient condition
  • But because it is necessary, it is important

Australian Curriculum and F-10

Promoting world-class curriculum and


  • a solid foundation in skills and knowledge on which further learning and adult life can be built
  • deep knowledge and skills that will enable advanced learning and an ability to create new ideas and translate them into practical applications
  • general capabilities that underpin flexible and critical thinking, a capacity to work with others and an ability to move across subject disciplines to develop new expertise

Languages and the whole curriculum

Introduction of the Australian Curriculum provides the opportunity to:

  • Focus on the importance of content: what students should learn as well as how they should be taught?
  • The primary importance of language in Languages, with Intercultural Understanding a general capability
  • The relationship between pedagogy and content
  • A new focus on assessment
curriculum content
Curriculum content

The curriculum is the defined and mandated set of knowledge and skills that schools are required to teach and assess.

  • A democratic entitlement rather than individual determination of what is required for effective, participatory citizenship.

Languages are no longer an option for Victorian schools – all schools will be required to report on each student every year.

curriculum guidelines
Curriculum guidelines



This shifts the focus of teachers and schools

It is no longer an option to say “This stuff is too hard for this student”.

Now we need to say “What different approach can we take to help this student learn this stuff?”

the big questions
The big questions
  • Only 11 languages – what about other 35?
  • Use of English
  • 10 sub-strand model
acara languages
ACARA languages
  • Chinese
  • Italian
  • Aboriginal languages
  • French
  • Indonesian
  • Korean
  • Modern Greek
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese
  • Arabic
  • German
  • Japanese
use of english
Use of English

The role of English

Learners are encouraged to use French whenever possible, with the teacher providing rich and supported languageinput. English is used as a medium of instruction and for explanation and discussion. This allows learners to talk about differences and similarities they notice between French and their first language(s) and culture(s), to ask questions about language and culture, and to consider how they feel when they hear or use French and about how they view different languages and the people who speak them. This introduction to the ‘meta’ dimension of intercultural learning develops the ability to consider different perspectives and ways of being

The role of English

English continues to be used for substantive discussion, explanation and analysis. This allows learners to talk in depth and detail about their experience of learning French, and about their thoughts on culture, identity and intercultural experience. English is the language of analysis and critique, supporting discussion of concepts such as ‘stereotypes’, ‘difference’, ‘diversity’ and ‘values’. It allows for a degree of expression and debate that is beyond learners’ communicative capabilities in French.

australian curriculum structure
Australian Curriculum structure

Structure of Australian Curriculum: Languages

Communicating strand

5 sub-strands:

  • Socialising
  • Informing
  • Creating
  • Translating
  • Reflecting

Understanding strand

3 sub-strands:

  • Systems of language
  • Language variation and change
  • Role of language and culture

Structure of VELS Languages

  • Communicating in a language other than English
  • Intercultural knowledge and language awareness

Assessment and reporting

  • Achievement standards as a continuum of language learning, not an age-determined set of expectations
  • Reporting in Victoria to be against achievement standards set in AusVELS but with measures set by individual schools
  • Measures can be at the cohort or individual student level
  • New on-line assessment tool
  • Using assessment to adjust teaching
  • Not “dumbing down” to lowest common denominator – instead, using assessment to set higher goals

Good time to be a languages teacher

  • Languages at the centre not the periphery of the curriculum
  • Cognitive benefit of language learning well understood
  • New levels of resourcing