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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.

This month's update focuses on global education, languages education and using stories to promote students' intercultural understanding. The policy section draws attention to a recently published report on the state of play of languages education in Western Australia.

March 2015 edition


The State of Play: Languages Education in Western Australia

Published by the Government of Western Australia, School Curriculum and Standards Authority, this provides an overview of pre-primary to Year 12 languages education in WA, covering both in-school and out-of-school settings. The report presents enrolment data and other valuable insights into the current state of play, highlighting key challenges for the future of languages education in WA.


Reynolds, R. et al. (eds.) (2015). Contesting and Constructing International Perspectives in Global Education. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers.


This volume, edited by a group of Australian academics, brings together experts from around the world, including Australia and Indonesia, to share their views on global citizenship education. The articles discuss, among other issues, teacher education, school culture, curriculum, resources for global education and the action component of global citizenship.

Practical relevance

The articles in this edited volume are relevant to the Australian Curriculum general capability of Intercultural understanding. They offer a range of theoretical and practical considerations for schools and other education providers on developing and implementing various facets of global education.

Sato, S., & Doerr, N. (2014). Rethinking Language and Culture in Japanese Education: Beyond the Standard. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

(Includes a link to Google preview; can be accessed through interlibrary loan from Australian universities and also as an e-book)


This edited volume brings together articles by education experts from Japan and North America to discuss the implications of standardised testing in education for the teaching and learning of Japanese language and culture to both native and non-native speakers. The chapters address a variety of topics, both conceptually and empirically, such as the critical reading of Japanese textbooks, teacher-student interaction in the classroom, and critical teaching of Japanese culture. 

Practical relevance

Although this focus is primarily on North America, many aspects of this book are relevant to the teaching and learning of Japanese language and culture in Australia, where there is also increasing emphasis on standardised testing. It offers in-depth, practical elaborations on the challenges of promoting critical language and cultural learning in a society with limited opportunities to directly interact with native speakers of the target language.

Henderson, D., & Fitzgerald, D. (2014). ‘The struggle for welcome’ (authors’ version): valuing difference through refugee stories in the English Curriculum. English in Australia, 49(3), 67–77.


The article explores how refugee stories can be used as resources in the English classroom to promote students’ intercultural understanding. The authors emphasise the pedagogical potential of stories to promote transformative learning through self-reflection, the development of empathy and challenging pre-existing assumptions and prejudices. Using André Dao’s short story Vuot Bien – The Search for Freedom: Huong Thi Nguen’s Story (2005) as a text for Year 9 English, the authors draw links to the Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia cross-curriculum priority. Several AEF papers and reports are cited in the article, which also refer to Hassim's (2013) elaborations on intercultural understanding in Australian schools.

Practical relevance

The article offers practical suggestions on how refugee stories can be used in an English classroom to foster transformative intercultural learning among students. It relates to various dimensions of the Intercultural understanding general capability as discussed in the Australian Curriculum. The article also demonstrates how Intercultural understanding can intersect with the Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia cross-curriculum priority in the English classroom.


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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