Languages Curriculum Workshop

A couple of Sundays ago, three Indonesian teachers from the Fleurieu Indonesian teachers Hub Group met with Andrea Costen, an Indonesian teacher currently working in 2 Adelaide High school settings.
The 3 of us have, for varying reasons, been impatient to begin our investigation of the Languages Curriculum and therefore have been planning this meeting for months. While INTAN has/had a curriculum forum planned for later this term, we invited Andrea to come and give us an introduction beforehand and now we are so glad we did.
We met at one of our homes which was lovely because while we were learning, we could listen at times and lift our eyes to the beautiful grounds and views that surrounded her home. It was a glorious day, and the view simply was the icing to the cake and just added to the discussion that was happening inside.
We each had a copy of the revised draft Australian Curriculum: Languages Indonesian.all 93 pages of it! I had forgotten that it actually includes 2 pathways and we only really needed the first – Foundation to Year 10 Sequence however it was valuable to also have a copy of the Years 7 – 10 (Year 7 Entry) Sequence too and understand where it fits in!
We began the workshop by peppering Andrea with questions mainly about programming and other nuts and bolts aspects of applying the curriculum in the classroom. With 2015 looming fast, we explained our urgency. All 3 of us will have or have had significant amounts of leave over 2013-2015 and we each are concerned about the resulting gaps which will impact on its application and implementation in the classroom.
However Andrea immediately put us at ease by informing us that it was recently brought to her attention that 2015 has been identified as being a year of familiarisation and at this stage the Languages Curriculum will not be mandated until 2016. Music to our ears!

Andrea next introduced us to the language in the curriculum, the layout and illustrated her points with examples from her own teaching. It was so inspiring.

We began our journey through the Languages Curriulum at the very beginning with the Band Descriptors which describe the learners.

There are 2 major strands
– Communicating &
– Understanding.

The sub-strands for Communicating are:

& for Understanding are:
systems of Language
Language Variation and Change
Role of Language & Culture

Content Descriptions are the compulsory and required content elements whereas the Content Elaborations are purely illustrative suggestions.image

I emerged from the workshop busting with enthusiasm to trial some of her ideas the following week! I also emerged with pages and pages of notes which I will edit and include because I am hoping others will find them interesting and thought provoking too.

‘Identity’ is a concept underpinned throughout the entire Curriculum. This helps remove the ‘strangeness’ & foreignness’ from language teaching which in turn increases tolerance. Teachers use language & culture ‘hooks’ to connect their students.

Intercultural teaching is big picture thinking and not the 5 F’s. It promotes deeper thinking and understandings.

Instead of having a set task for each class to complete to represent and measure the learning covered during a term theme, could we at the primary level instead pose an inquiry question based on what teacher and students believe to be the most important understanding we want to know as a result of the term theme? For example, What role does schooling play in the community? Or, How do we take care of ourselves and others? How do we promote good health?

Language teaching should be about encouraging thinking rather than about providing answers.

This can be achieved by asking students about what we need to know and then listing the points which can then be ticked off as they are each covered. It could also include asking students to contribute to the list of key vocabulary to be introduced/revised. I love this idea. I do begin each topic with a list of vocabulary which is often targeted through flashcards and games. I have in the past simply added any student initiated words however I realise that this in itself demonstrates how teacher centric my teaching is. This is going to be extremely challenging for me with my current stye of teaching yet also very exciting and leads perfectly to my next dot point.

In learning about the new Languages Curriuclum, Indonesian teachers should play with the shift in thinking rather than in the shift in programming. The shift is in pedagogy.

Know your students. Andrea gave examples of how she had surveyed her students to discover what other languages they had learned or already spoke. This is definitely something I would like to investigate further with my students. I asked my upper primary classes the following Monday about this and discovered that not only did we have students who spoke Punjabi and Greek, but one of our recently returned students from the APY lands speaks Pititjantjara! That was very exciting because a group of Year 6-7’s are currently preparing for a 10 day school bus trip to the AYP Lands! It also gave students the opportunity to consider what level of fluency gives you the right to say you speak a language. Being able to say “Aloha” does not make one fluent in Hawaiian!

Andrea then finished off with some homework tasks for us. Here they are:

1. Look at the ACARA website and familiarise ourselves with it. Look through one of the subject areas and explore how everything is set out because that is how the Languages Curriculum will be.

2. Design a profiling tool to get to know our students. Andrea shared hers, a survey she asked all students to complete.

3. Look at the achievement standards and look at how they are sequenced and build in complexity.

Once again, a huge thanks to Andrea for meeting with us down here on the Fleurieu and providing us with so much information on the revised Curriculum- Indonesian.



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