The nature of the learner, the pathway and particular language
Languages studied in the First Language Learner Pathway (L1) are typically used in spoken form as the language of everyday communication by whole communities across all generations.
Typically, but not exclusively, L1 programs will occur on Country/Place and will have constant involvement from a variety of speakers from the community. A key expectation in the L1 pathway is that of students having opportunities to interact with Elders and particular places on Country/Place.
Learners are typically Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children who have learnt the language from their families as a first language and continue to use it naturally at home and play. Students may have varying skills in other languages, including varieties of English.
The curriculum content and achievement standards in the First Language Learner Pathway are generalised in order to cater for the range of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander languages that may be learnt as a first language. The curriculum content and achievement standards will need to be adapted when developing language-specific curricula, and will need to be modified for programs occuring off-Country.
Learners at this level are expanding their social networks, experiences and communicative repertoire in the language. They benefit from varied, activity-based learning that builds on their interests and capabilities and makes connections with other areas of learning. The curriculum ensures that learning experiences and activities are flexible enough to cater for learner variables while being appropriate for learners' general cognitive and social levels.
Language learning and use
Students interact with peers, the teaching team, Elders and community members in a variety of learning experiences and activities. They continue to build vocabulary that relates to a wider range of domains, such as curriculum areas that involve some specialised language use.
Students engage in a range of listening activities and build oral proficiency through responding to rich language input and opportunities to engage in meaningful communicative activities. They follow instructions, exchange information and express ideas and feelings related to their immediate environment and personal worlds. They participate in shared tasks, performance and play.
Students’ development of written literacy progresses from supported comprehension and use of high-frequency and personally significant sight words to more elaborated simple texts which take account of context, purpose and audience. The development of reading skills and textual knowledge is supported through interaction with a range of spoken, written, visual and multimodal texts, including sign language as appropriate.
At upper primary level, learners use the language for a widening range of purposes: collaborating, creating, performing and responding to resources and experiences. They have greater control of vocabulary and grammatical resources and use an increasingly sophisticated range of non-verbal strategies to support communication. Shared learning activities develop social, cognitive and language skills and provide a context for purposeful language experience and experimentation.
Oracy development includes listening to a range of varied language input from different sources and building more elaborated conversational and interactional skills. These include initiating and sustaining conversations, reflecting on and responding to others’ contributions, making appropriate responses and adjustments, and engaging in debate and discussion. Individual and group oral presentation and performance skills are developed through researching and organising information, structuring and resourcing presentation of content, and selecting appropriate language to engage a particular audience.
At this level, there is focused attention on language structures and systems. Learners draw on more established grammatical and lexical resources to compose and comprehend more complex language. With support they build increasing cohesion and complexity into their writing in terms of both content and expression. They use ICT to support their learning in more independent and intentional ways and make comparisons between the language they are learning and other languages they speak or are learning, including English.
Contexts of interaction
Learning occurs largely through interaction with peers and the teaching team. Additional enrichment and authentication of learning experience is provided through interactions with Elders and other speakers living in the community. Interacting with Country/Place and exploring the environment with Elders and other community members is essential to learning at all stages. Students may also have access to community facilities and functions, such as the health clinic, art centre, coast patrol, local interpretative centre, and the office of the park ranger or land council.
Elders and community members may teach about cultural elements of language and communication, such as gender-differentiated roles, working separately with male and female students when appropriate.
Students may have some access to speakers of the language or related languages in other communities and regions through digital technologies.
Texts and resources
Country/Place and the community are the most important resources for learning the language. They are the origin of most of the texts and communicative situations students engage with.
Learners interact with a growing range of spoken, visual, written and digital texts, including photographs, maps, oral histories, community texts such as posters from health clinics, community notices, land-care programs, songs, raps, dances, stories, painting and visual design, music, video clips and films.
Level of support
While learners work more independently at this level, ongoing support is incorporated into task activity and the process of learning is supported by systematic feedback and review. Form-focused activities build student’s grammatical knowledge and support the development of accuracy and control in written language. Opportunities to use this knowledge in meaningful activities build communicative skills, confidence and fluency. Tasks are carefully scaffolded: teachers provide models and examples; introduce language, concepts and resources needed to manage and complete learning activities; make time for experimentation, drafting and redrafting; and provide support for self-monitoring and reflection. Discussion supports learning and develops children’s conceptual frame for talking about systems of language and culture.
While learners are becoming more autonomous and independent at the upper primary years, ongoing support is still needed, including explicit instruction, structured modelling and scaffolding, and provision of appropriate stimulus materials and timely feedback. Learning experiences incorporate implicit form-focused language learning activities and examples of texts and tasks.
The role of languages
The language of study is the principal medium of instruction in First Language Learner Pathway classrooms. Other known languages play a complementary role, for example, used when translating, creating bilingual/multilingual texts or comparing and contrasting writing systems, language structures and language features and use.
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