Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages


Using the Framework

The Framework is general in its structure and approach because it needs to be applicable to all Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages in Australia, across the full range of language ecologies. As a consequence, curriculum content and achievement standards are pitched at a higher level of generality than in language-specific curricula in order to cater for the full range of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander languages that may potentially be learnt within a particular pathway.

The next stage of Australian Curriculum development for Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages may lead to the development of some language-specific exemplars of content and achievement standards to be included in the Framework in order to support and guide the process of developing specific content and achievement standards for specific languages.

Developing language-specific curricula for particular Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander languages

It is intended that the Framework be used by state and territory education jurisdictions, schools and communities to develop language-specific curricula and programs. Any language-specific curriculum development must be undertaken with appropriate consultation with language owners or custodians and members of the relevant Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities, as outlined in the Principles and Protocols section of this Framework. Consideration must be given to the availability of appropriate human resources to develop the curriculum and to the level of documentation and resources available for the particular language.

The curriculum development team will include members of the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community whose language is the focus, as well as curriculum specialists, language experts and language-teaching practitioners, as necessary.

Determining the appropriate pathway

In selecting the pathway that will be used as a base for development of language-specific curricula, consideration should be given to the nature of the language, the nature of the learners, and the context of learning, for example:

  • the ecology of the language and the nature of the speech community
  • the profile of learners and the degree of affiliation with the language
  • the likelihood of the program occurring on or off Country/Place.

The Framework is designed to be flexible in use. When developing language-specific curricula and programs the curriculum development team can select, adapt and modify aspects of the content and achievement standards from across the pathways in ways that best suit the particular language, its context and its learners. For example, language-specific curriculum development for languages that are being revived, still have first language speakers, are regaining fluent speakers, or have substantial resources, could potentially adapt and modify some aspects of the content and achievement standards from the LR, L2 and L1 pathways.

Sequences of learning

The Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages is written as a Foundation – Year 10 learning sequence and presumes continuous learning of the same language across the bands Foundation – Year 2, Years 3–6, and Years 7–10.

The content and achievement standards will require modification if the language-specific curriculum is to be written for different entry points, for example, developing a curriculum for a Year 7 entry point.

Context Statement

A context statement will be developed for each specific language to describe the distinctiveness and nature of that language, including its use in the community, the place of the language in Australian education, the nature of learning the language, and the diversity of students who will be learning the language.

Content and Achievement Standards

In developing a language-specific curriculum, the generalised content and achievement standards within a particular pathway may need to be adapted and modified to reflect the nature of the language, the nature of the learners, and the context of learning. This includes adapting band descriptions, content descriptions, content elaborations, and achievement standards.

Language-specific examples such as concepts, key words and phrases should be included in the content and achievement standards. The use of language-specific examples provides teachers with a point of reference when developing programs and provides indications of pitch and expected levels of performance in language use and understanding.

Content elaborations develop aspects of each content description: illustrations, descriptions or examples to indicate opportunities for learning. They are intended as complementary support material. They are neither prescriptive nor comprehensive. The elaborations included for each pathway of the Framework allow for the various ecologies of languages, the various contexts of learning, and the diversity of learners within a particular pathway. This is particularly the case for the LR pathway.

Language-specific curriculum developers should select, adapt and modify elaborations in ways that best suit the particular language and its context and learners, or should create particular content elaborations to accompany the content descriptions for the specific language.

Developing teaching and learning programs

The Australian Curriculum: Languages has been developed for language-as-subject programs (where a language is studied as a subject as part of the school curriculum). Schools and jurisdictions will allocate a larger number of hours in implementing content-based programs (where the content from another learning area is taught in the target language) and bilingual programs.

I feel that there's a genuine respect and appreciation from the school community for the language and what I'm doing. They make me feel like they're lucky to have me. Their encouragement and determination to help me and help keep Kaurna thriving amazes me. I feel like we share the same passion. And that's so comforting to me.

Taylor Power, Kaurna language teacher, Gilles Street Primary School

The Australian Curriculum: Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages is designed to achieve four aims that are realised through two interrelated strands: communicating and understanding. In developing teaching and learning programs, the two strands are integrated to ensure holistic learning and to attend to active language use and the development of related knowledge, understandings and reflective capabilities.

The set of strands and sub-strands capture a range of dimensions of language use. As such, they are designed to capture the scope; that is, the range and variety of content to be experienced and learned by students. Teachers will need to design teaching and learning programs by drawing on the content descriptions from a number of sub-strands, and integrate these to create meaningful learning experiences for their particular learners. The emphases across the strands and sub-strands may vary for different languages, bands and pathways, and for different program contexts. Since the content descriptions indicate the nature and scope of the learning over several-year spans, teachers will need to make decisions about what aspects of the content descriptions will be taught in what year of their program. Year by year, programs can then be used to inform the development of short-term programs (that is, one term/several weeks).

Taken together, band descriptions, content descriptions, content elaborations, and achievement standards provide an overall sense of ‘level’ of, or expectations about, language teaching and learning at a given moment in time and over time. They give a sense of the level of complexity at which student learning can be pitched, and in relation to assessment they provide a reference point for making judgments about students’ progress in learning. Teachers will make decisions about pedagogies that best meet the learning needs of their particular students and that best reflect the context of their particular program. 

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