The Potential And The Potential Pitfalls Of The Australian Curriculum Languages

Year: 2015

Author: Slaughter, Yvette, TruckenBrodt, Andrea

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Languages education in Australia has long been characterised by fragmented and varying policy and funding initiatives, reflecting conflicting state and federal level political imperatives and priorities. The ACARA curriculum development, representing Australia’s first national curriculum, has seen the development of a national curriculum for languages, and by the end of 2014, the release of language-specific curriculum frameworks for Indigenous Languages, Arabic, Chinese (in three forms reflecting the language background of the learner group), French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese. With a policy void nationally for languages education, the national languages curriculum can be seen to take the form of a new, de facto languages policy for Australia with two caveats: the adoption of the Australian Curriculum Languages per se by individual states and territories is still uncertain and the different states and territories will almost certainly interpret and implement the national languages differently.

In this paper, we reflect on two broad points. Firstly, we compare the new curriculum with its local and international peers in terms of its theoretical underpinnings and alignment. Secondly, we address the advantages, as well as the disadvantages of a national curriculum for languages and language-specific curricula, from the perspective of various stakeholders. We consider the implications for the effective introduction of a national curriculum across weaker and stronger policy landscapes and for teachers and learners of languages, including those with and without access to a language-specific curriculum.

We conclude with an identification of the major challenges that will need to be addressed in order to ensure a successful implementation of the Australian Curriculum Languages.