Student Diversity

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Personalised learning

While the objectives of the Australian Curriculum are the same for all students, EAL/D students make progress towards these objectives while simultaneously learning a new language and learning content and skills through that new language.

As a result, EAL/D students may require additional time and support, along with teaching that explicitly addresses their language learning needs. Students who have had little or no formal schooling will need additional time and support in order to acquire skills for effective learning in formal settings.

Personalised instruction to support EAL/D students

EAL/D students require systematic and informed teaching which is mindful of the student’s English language proficiency, in order to build English language skills while simultaneously delivering the content of the Australian Curriculum.

Teachers can achieve this by:

  • identifying a student’s level of language proficiency using the EAL/D Learning Progression
  • teaching explicitly
  • using students’ cultural understandings
  • building shared knowledge.

Planning from age-equivalent content

The Australian Curriculum content provides the starting point for developing the teaching and learning program for all students. Access to this content is made possible for students who have English as an additional language or dialect by identifying a student’s language proficiency using the EAL/D Learning Progression, and delivering content in ways which both acknowledge the student’s current English language proficiency and simultaneously build their English language learning skills.

The following points elaborate on the process outlined in the flowchart Using the Australian Curriculum to meet the learning needs of all students. The process starts with learning area content that aligns with students’ chronological age. For example, in Year 5 Science, students learn about the solar system [Year 5 Science Understanding ACSSU078] and the important contributions made by scientists from a range of cultures [Year 5 Science as a Human Endeavour ACSHE082].

The Year 5 Science content provides the starting point for developing the teaching and learning program for all students. The program can be personalised in relation to individual student language needs. The EAL/D Learning Progression allows teachers to locate EAL/D students on a progression of English language learning and to deliver the Science content in a manner that is cognizant of the student’s current English language skills and continues to develop those skills.

  • Using the EAL/D Learning Progression to identify the student’s language proficiencies to personalise age-equivalent learning area content. For example:

    Learners in the Beginning and Emerging phases may be able to access information about advances in science via texts in their home language, or from family members. Family members and bilingual assistants may be used to interpret and translate this information. With this content knowledge in place, English language can then be mapped onto known concepts; for example, bilingual glossaries may be developed. The use of images and timelines will also support students’ comprehension of this science content; for example, connecting images of scientific advancements to locations on a map, or identifying the names of the advancement in the original language.

    Learners in the Developing and Consolidating phases will be able to access the texts and materials provided to their first language classmates but will require scaffolds into those texts. Vocabulary will need to be built, with attention paid to scientific terminology (for example, ‘telescope’ or ‘astronomy’) as well as terminology that is culturally located, for example, ‘the heavens’. Talking about the past will require noticing and modelling appropriate use of tense and voice, such as providing sentence frames and key vocabulary for students to use. For example, model the sentence (‘The first telescope was invented by…’) and provide sentence and vocabulary prompts (‘telescope’, ‘improve’, ‘Galileo’) that students can use to write new sentences.

  • Using the general capabilities learning continua to personalise age-equivalent learning area content.

    The science program may be personalised by focusing on the cultural assets of EAL/D students and drawing from the general capabilities of Intercultural understanding and Critical and creative thinking. Many EAL/D students will be able to share knowledge from their own cultures in the exploration of this Science content.

    Through the exploration of Earth and space sciences, students can understand the different ways in which Earth and space sciences are understood and used by different cultural groups; for example, the use of the lunar calendar in agricultural communities in South-East Asia; the significant contribution and long history of scientific endeavour of scholars from different cultures (particularly in the area of astronomy) [Intercultural understanding: Recognising culture and developing respect Level 4].

    Students can reflect on what they have learned about other cultural perspectives on scientific innovations and uses of scientific understanding, for example by writing reflection journals and recording both original assumptions and new learning which encourage critical and creative thinking [Critical and creative thinking: Reflecting on thinking processes Level 4].

  • Using the cross-curriculum priorities to personalise age-equivalent learning area content.

    Teachers may draw from the cross-curriculum priorities to make connections between a student’s cultural background and the Science content. EAL/D students from Asian backgrounds may have knowledge which contributes to scientific understandings from a range of urban, rural, historical and contemporary Asian contexts. Similarly, EAL/D students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds may be able to contribute to understandings of how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have historically explained astronomical phenomena and used them in their understandings of the geography and use of their lands.

Detailed Illustrations of personalised learning have been developed to promote equity and excellence for diverse learners, including students for whom English is an additional language or dialect. The illustrations demonstrate access to age-equivalent learning area content from the Australian Curriculum. There are many sources of advice about planning quality teaching and learning programs that are inclusive of EAL/D students. The websites of state and territory education authorities are a good starting point.

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