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Research & policy updates

Produced by Asia Education Foundation, this digest shares recent research relevant to fostering the development of Asian languages and studies, and intercultural understanding in Australian schools.


April 2015 edition

Research

Moloney, R., & Xu, H. (2015). Transitioning beliefs in teachers of Chinese as a foreign language: An Australian case study. Cogent Education, 2(1).

Summary

Based on qualitative interviews with nine Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) teachers in New South Wales, this article identifies three types of CFL teachers: 1) those who maintain their ‘traditional Chinese education schema’; 2) those who fully identify with ‘Australian pedagogic beliefs’; and 3) those ‘teachers in transition between the two sets of beliefs and practices’ (p. 7).

Three factors influence the transition process of the nine interviewed teachers: 1) their age; 2) their status and position within the community of practice; and 3) the type and amount of professional development available. The article calls for further professional development tailored to the needs of CFL teachers, peer advice and administrative support.

Practical relevance

The article addresses some of the current challenges for Chinese language education in Australian schools, in particular teacher beliefs related to pedagogy. It emphasises the importance of adequate and tailored professional development for CFL teachers in Australia. This relates to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (Standard 6: Engage in professional learning).


Walton, J., Paradies, Y., Priest, N., Wertheim E., & Freeman, E. (2015). Fostering intercultural understanding through secondary school experiences of cultural immersion (preview only). International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 28(2): 216-237.

Summary

This article explores how students' cultural immersion trips to Indonesia and East Timor, organised as part of two Australia-Asia school partnerships, can contribute to promoting intercultural understanding among students. Using frameworks based on cultural immersion and Allport’s positive inter-group contact, the article argues that in-country immersion can positively influence students’ cultural knowledge and intercultural understanding as long as three key elements are present: 1) adequate pre-departure preparation and minimising factors that may hamper positive inter-group contact; 2) promotion of mutual familiarity, liking and friendship through inter-group engagement; and 3) time for reflecting on intercultural experiences. 

Practical relevance

The article illustrates how international school partnerships and, more specifically, student visits to their partner school in Asia, can help foster students’ intercultural understanding. This relates to the Intercultural understanding general capability and Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia cross-curriculum priority of the Australian Curriculum. The article uses a similar framework to AEF’s What Works 6: Australia-Asia school partnerships, reaching similar conclusions about the potential power of international school partnerships for the promotion of intercultural understanding.


Kohler, M. (2015). Teachers as Mediators in the Foreign Language Classroom. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Summary

This book examines the underexplored area of language teachers’ role in mediating language and culture learning from an intercultural perspective. It is based on in-depth case studies of three Indonesian language teachers in secondary schools in South Australia. The book offers deep insights into teachers’ experiences, thoughts and feelings as mediators who do not only convey knowledge, but also are active in ‘bridging (at least) two linguistic and cultural frameworks into a relationship with an educative purpose’ (p. 5).

Practical relevance

The book's explanation of language teachers' role as intercultural mediators in the classroom adds value to the discourse around intercultural learning in schools. As intercultural mediators, language teachers play an important role in addressing the general capability of Intercultural understanding within the Australian Curriculum.


Policy

Seven Australian Curriculum language curricula made available 

ACARA has added seven language curricula (Arabic, Korean, Modern Greek, Spanish, Vietnamese, German and Japanese) to the Australian Curriculum (F-10) website. The curricula are awaiting final endorsement from the Education Council but are available for states and territories to use in their jurisdictions. 

Australian Curriculum primary illustrations

ACARA has published 20 videos to illustrate the ways in which the Australian Curriculum is being managed within primary schools. Accompanying planning proformas, timetables and other documents are also available on the Australian Curriculum website. The primary schools in the videos represent a variety of school-sectors, geo-locations and school sizes. Two schools engaged with AEF – Kalinda Primary School (VIC) and Mawson Primary School (ACT) – feature in the illustrations.

Disclaimer

The views expressed within this update, or any of the articles it contains, do not necessarily represent those of AEF or the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

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