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Learning area

Student diversity

ACARA is committed to the development of a high-quality curriculum that promotes excellence and equity in education for all Australian students.

All students are entitled to rigorous, relevant and engaging learning programs drawn from the Australian Curriculum: Languages. Teachers take account of the range of their students’ current levels of learning, strengths, goals and interests and make adjustments where necessary. The three-dimensional design of the Australian Curriculum, comprising learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities, provides teachers with flexibility to cater for the diverse needs of students across Australia and to personalise their learning.

More detailed advice for schools and teachers on using the Australian Curriculum to meet diverse learning needs is available under Student Diversity on the Australian Curriculum website.

Students with disability

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005 require education and training service providers to support the rights of students with disability to access the curriculum on the same basis as students without disability.

Many students with disability are able to achieve educational standards commensurate with their peers, as long as the necessary adjustments are made to the way in which they are taught and to the means through which they demonstrate their learning.

In some cases curriculum adjustments are necessary to provide equitable opportunities for students to access age-equivalent content in the Australian Curriculum: Languages. Teachers can draw from content at different levels along the Foundation to Year 10 sequence. Teachers can also use the extended general capabilities learning continua in Literacy, Numeracy and Personal and social capability to adjust the focus of learning according to individual student need.

English as an additional language or dialect

Languages play a crucial role in the educational experience of students and in the curriculum as a whole. Given the diversity of students in Australian education, it is important to recognise that a range of languages is used either as part of the formal curriculum or as part of learners’ socialisation within and outside the school.

Learners bring their first language or languages as the one(s) they use for their initial socialisation in their family or community. For the majority, this is English. For many, it can be a range of different languages. Learners also encounter the language or languages of instruction at school. For most in Australia, this is English. For many students in Australia, the language of instruction is not the same as their first language. These students may learn through English as an additional language/dialect (EALD) programs.

In contemporary understandings of language acquisition, development and learning all the languages learners experience in their socialisation and education form part of learners’ distinctive linguistic and cultural repertoires. These are variously developed by both the experience of schooling and broader social community experience. These repertoires are an integral part of learners’ identities and what they bring to the learning of additional languages as part of the languages learning area within the school curriculum.

While the curriculum for languages primarily addresses the learning of languages, this learning cannot be separated from the development of learners’ more general communicative repertoires. It is through such a relational and holistic approach to languages education that learners develop their capabilities in knowing and using multiple languages. Learners extend their communicative and conceptual development, learning and identity formation.

In various kinds of bilingual programs, students are afforded an opportunity to learn through the medium of English and another language (learners’ first or additional language). These programs are of particular value in ensuring learners continue to develop at least two languages that are of value to them. They are of value to both their conceptual development and learning and to their identity formation.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities recognise the importance of literacy to their children. They support literacy education programs that are founded on establishing literacy in their children’s first language. These are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages their communities use. Literacy in English is regarded as concomitant on first establishing students’ literacy in their first language. Although most bilingual programs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are designed to help students’ transition into learning in English, their fundamental value is in the development of bilingual literacy. Strengthening the bilingual literacy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can significantly contribute to improving their overall academic achievement and success.

A national English as an Additional Language or Dialect: Teacher Resource has been developed to support teachers in making the Australian Curriculum: Foundation – Year 10 in each learning area accessible to EALD students.

Gifted and talented students

Teachers can use the Australian Curriculum: Languages flexibly to meet the individual learning needs of gifted and talented students.

Teachers can enrich learning by providing students with opportunities to work with learning area content in more depth or breadth; emphasising specific aspects of the general capabilities learning continua (for example, the higher order cognitive skills of the Critical and creative thinking capability); and/or focusing on cross-curriculum priorities. Teachers can also accelerate student learning by drawing on content from later levels in the Australian Curriculum: Languages and/or from local state and territory teaching and learning materials.

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