Making connections through the home languages of EALD students

Year: 2019

Author: Morrison, Anne, Armitage, Jane

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Despite the highly multicultural profile of contemporary Australia, educational policy and practices privilege English as the language of schooling. Students who have recently arrived in Australia, or those who speak one or more other languages at home, require English proficiency in order to access virtually all curricula and to succeed academically. As a consequence, the home languages of culturally and linguistically diverse students are rarely viewed as assets to learning, and remain a largely untapped resource in secondary classrooms. Culturally responsive teachers, on the other hand, explicitly value the cultural and linguistic resources of their students and they design meaningful learning opportunities that draw on these resources. In doing so, they connect learning to the life-worlds of their students, and indeed extend on these life-worlds for educative purposes. In this paper, we report on an action research project in which a teacher took seriously the challenge of connecting her pedagogy to the life-worlds of the culturally and linguistically diverse students in a Year 10 EAL/D class. We describe a unit of work developed as part of the project, and report on the outcomes. The unit was academically rigorous and met multiple requirements of the Australian Curriculum. We also discuss the challenges that arose, and the lessons learnt for future practice.