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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.


November 2014 edition

Policy

Government launches Early Learning Languages Australia trial

Forty preschools around Australia will take part in the Australian Government's Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) trial in 2015, using play-based apps for Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, French and Arabic. This pilot will look at how effective early exposure to languages is.

More information


Journal articles

Meeting the challenges of heritage language education: lessons from one school community

Willoughby, L. (2014). Meeting the challenges of heritage language education: lessons from one school community.Current Issues in Language Planning, 15(3), 265-281.

This article describes the approach to heritage language education at Ferndale Secondary College in Victoria and some of the barriers to boosting student numbers in heritage language classes in the senior years. It explores how top-down language education policies tend to favour some languages and types of speakers over others, and how programme content and timetabling can influence whether students choose to study, or not study, their heritage language in the senior years.

(Summary adapted from Willoughby, 2014)

Practical relevance
The article offers insights into the interplay of policy-related, structural and other factors that can affect heritage language programmes in schools. It discusses a variety of practical approaches that school leaders and language teachers might consider when trying to boost student numbers in their heritage language programmes – from programme adaptations to partnering with other language education providers.


Learning Chinese as a heritage language in Australia and beyond: the role of capital

Mu, G. M. (2014). Learning Chinese as a heritage language in Australia and beyond: the role of capitalLanguage and Education, 28(5), 477-492.

This article examines the commitment of Chinese heritage language learners to their language learning in Australia and how this contributes to their language proficiency. Findings from a quantitative survey of 230 Chinese Australian respondents and subsequent qualitative interviews indicate that cultural, social and symbolic capital significantly contributes to language proficiency and commitment to language learning.

(Summary adapted from Mu, 2014).

Practical relevance
ACARA recently released the Australian Curriculum: Chinese (F-10), which differentiates between three learner pathways: first language learners, second language learners, and background language learners (similar to heritage). The article provides an evidence base that schools can use to better understand the complex language learning commitments, goals and (perceived or anticipated) benefits of learning Chinese language for heritage learners.


Learning Chinese in Diasporic Communities: Many pathways to being Chinese

Curdt-Christiansen, X. L., & Hancock, A. (eds.) (2014). Learning Chinese in Diasporic Communities: Many pathways to being Chinese. Amsterdam; Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

This edited volume explores new approaches to learning Chinese and bilingual education models from various international contexts (including Australia). It focuses on Chinese diasporic children, and looks at how different cultural, educational and linguistic contexts enable or prohibit them from acquiring the Chinese language. The chapters draw on detailed analyses of language learning, both formal and informal. They also explore the complex nature of language learning for background and first language learners, comprising attitudes, linguistic practices and identity formation.

(Summary adapted from publisher’s website)

Practical relevance
The edited volume provides practical and inspiring perspectives on programme design, language provision and classroom practices for Chinese heritage language education and bilingual education. 
Chinese is one of the most popular Asian languages taught in Australia, and heritage language learners are a substantial cohort among Chinese language learners. ACARA recently released the Australian Curriculum: Chinese (F-10), which differentiates between three learner pathways: first language learners, second language learners, and background language learners (similar to heritage).

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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