the discourse of esl policy the impact of the literacy crisis
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The discourse of ESL policy: the impact of the ‘literacy crisis’. Mairead Hannan Master of TESOL. Why this research?. Practicing ESL teacher since 1990 Wanted to understand what what happening to ESL profession in schools Why basic literacy is the focus to exclusion of other needs

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the discourse of esl policy the impact of the literacy crisis

The discourse of ESL policy: the impact of the ‘literacy crisis’

Mairead Hannan

Master of TESOL

why this research
Why this research?
  • Practicing ESL teacher since 1990
  • Wanted to understand what what happening to ESL profession in schools
  • Why basic literacy is the focus to exclusion of other needs
  • Why many schools don’t provide ESL support
  • Why teachers and communities seem to have lost voice
determined the reasons for changes as relating to
Determined the reasons for changes as relating to:
  • Policy
  • Discourse
  • The ‘literacy crisis’ (Lo Bianco and Freebody 2001)
  • Currently focus on economic discourse and away from the rights of multilingual Australian communities
what has happened to esl
What has happened to ESL
  • Subsumed by literacy needs (Lo Bianco 1998)
  • Collapsed into literacy funds

(Lo Bianco, Hammond, Michell 1998, 2009)

  • Silenced (Ives, 2008)
why and how has this occurred
Why and how has this occurred?
  • Examined federal language and literacy from 1986:
  • National Policy on Languages (1987)
  • Australian Language and Literacy Policy (1991)
  • Literacy For All (1998)
victorian documents
Victorian documents
  • ESL Companion to CSF (2000)
  • ESL Companion VELS (2005)
  • The ESL Handbook (2006)
  • ESL Continuum (2008)
  • PoLT (2004)
  • Blueprints (2003; 2008)
  • Literacy Teaching and Learning in Victorian Schools (2006)
  • VCAA (2008)
research methods
Research Methods
  • Critical Discourse Analysis (Blommaert 2005, Fairclough 1992,1995, 2001)
  • Grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss1967)
  • Political Sociology (Faulks 1999)
  • Neo-liberalism and education (Apple 2004)
research premise
Research premise

That policy and planning for languages and ESL exhibit three orientations (Richard Ruiz 1984):

  • Languages as a problem
  • Languages as a right
  • Languages as a resource

Resource model is most desirable and

productive for a multilingual nation (Clyne 2005).

15-30% of Victorian students are bilingual.

research process
Research process
  • Highlighted key words in policy texts
  • Matrix of comparative, contrastive and incommensurate data
  • Related discourse to wider socio-political contexts
  • Theorized about discourses and related to existing literature and theory
  • Essentialized ideas relating them clearly to the data
themes arising from the data
Themes arising from the data

Policy style and discourse

  • i) A collaborative style and inclusive multicultural discourse
  • ii) A directive style and discourse of economic reform
  • iii) An imposing style and discourse of crisis
  • iv) A neo-liberal discourse focussed on competition and the individual

Five restrictions

  • i) Restriction of languages
  • ii) Restriction of literacy
  • iii) Restriction of assessment
  • iv) Restriction of voice
  • v) Restriction of participation
findings
Findings

A Neo-liberal state school ‘system’ in Victoria means that:

  • Varying practices and difficult to ascertain common practices relating to provision, programs and teaching
  • ESL is fore-grounded, back-grounded and absent in Victorian documents, depending on their sources
manifestations of neo liberalism
Manifestations of neo-liberalism

The government simultaneously:

  • Devolves responsibility
  • Applies accountability and compliance measures

Marketisation of education and prioritisation of choice and the individual. (Apple 2004).

Results in a lack of voice for minority groups and reflects a simplistic understanding of power. (Faulks 1999)

currently
Currently
  • Literacy and language are conflated.
  • Benchmarks and state-regulated tests are designed for native English speakers and disadvantage ESL students.
  • ‘Literacy crisis’ makes individuals responsible for own learning.
  • Accountability measures abound but
  • Dept does not ensure that ESL funds are directed towards ESL programs.

(It seems ESL Survey no longer has a compliance measure but NAP and Multicultural Education have)

orientation towards language planning in victoria
Orientation towards language planning in Victoria
  • ESL documents can show multilingualism as a resource but also exhibit other orientations as affected by mainstream concerns
  • General documents show multilingualism as a problem: either backgrounds or omits planning for a multilingual population
general documents
General documents
  • PoLT: no ESL
  • Literacy Teaching and Learning Paper no. 9: no ESL
  • VCAA: ESL backgrounded
  • DEECD: ESL backgrounded or absent
diffused practices in victoria
Diffused practices in Victoria
  • Self managed schools ‘system’ mean there is great variety of practices and difficult to ascertain.
  • Schools respond to markets and clients: Whose voices? Dominant discourses?
esl and literacy
ESL and literacy
  • ESL is not properly seen as a part of literacy
  • Benchmarks and tests not ESL-friendly
  • Literacy documents and national policy omit ESL (and languages)
  • ESL documents are backgrounded and practices subservient to literacy needs which are ‘in crisis’
  • This is re-confirmed in documents, media, schools provision, curriculum - throughout.
2009 developments
2009 Developments
  • National Curriculum describes EAL/D students well in “considerations”
  • NAPLAN assessment continues to be designed for mother tongue English speakers and applied across the nation
  • 2008 policy broadbanded all ESL funding, including NAP – how many states will have ESL units in 2010?
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