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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.

October 2014 edition


Preliminary languages curricula available in the Australian Curriculum

In October 2014, ACARA made available the validation version of seven new languages curricula to the Australian Curriculum for Arabic, German, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Spanish and Vietnamese. While the curricula for these seven languages are yet to be finalised, the validation versions are being released as a part of the Australian Curriculum development process. The final curricula are scheduled for approval by the Education Council in the coming months. (Adapted from ACARA News, 3 October 2014)

More information.

2015 round for New Colombo Plan announced

Building on the success of the 2014 pilot phase of the New Colombo Plan, Foreign Minister Bishop announced the widening of the plan into more than 35 host locations across the Indo-Pacific from 2015. The 2015 Round will support approximately 60 scholarships and around $8 million in mobility grants for Australian undergraduate students. (adapted from DFAT, New Colombo Plan website)

More information.

AEF responds to Australian Curriculum review

On 12 October 2014, the final report from the Review of the Australian Curriculum was released on the government's Student First website. AEF has published a response to the review, welcoming its commitment to the importance of teaching children about Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia.

Journal articles

The influence of teachers' interests, personalities and life experiences in intercultural languages teaching 

Peiser, G. & Jones, M. (2014). The influence of teachers’ interests, personalities and life experiences in intercultural languages teachingTeachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 20(3), pp. 375-390

Based on a UK study, this article focuses on teachers’ perceptions of the significance of intercultural understanding in the modern foreign languages curriculum. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 18 teachers, the study suggests that language teachers’ attention to intercultural learning is profoundly affected by their individual interests, personalities and life experiences. This has important implications for languages teacher training. As part of the study, Peiser and Jones mapped the narratives of four teachers, suggesting that these stories could be used as a professional learning tool to identify motivators and inhibitors in developing intercultural understanding. (Abstract adapted from Peiser & Jones, 2014)

Practical relevance  
The article offers valuable insights into teachers' perceptions of intercultural understanding more broadly. It relates to the Intercultural understanding general capability of the Australian Curriculum.

The article's suggestion to take into account teachers' personal beliefs and values when designing targeted professional learning relates to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers No. 6, 'Engaging in professional learning'.

Students' self-determined and integrative orientations and teachers' motivational support in a Japanese as a foreign language context

McEown, M., Noels, K., & Saumure, K. (2014). Students' self-determined and integrative orientations and teachers' motivational support in a Japanese as a foreign language contextSystem, 45, pp. 227–241

This article discusses the findings of a survey among 128 Canadian learners of Japanese, focused on students’ motivation for learning Japanese, learning outcomes, language-community engagement and teacher support. The results indicate that students’ self-determined orientations were the best predictors of learning engagement and academic outcomes, but development of cultural knowledge and intercultural interaction best predicted engagement with Japanese communities. The findings underscore the importance of personal and integrative orientations for languages learning. They emphasise that language teachers can foster students' motivation by supporting their sense of competence, relatedness and cultural understanding. (Abstract adapted from McEown, Noels & Saumure, 2014).

Practical relevance 
Japanese is the most commonly taught Asian language in Australian schools, and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is in the process of developing a curriculum for languages, including Japanese.

The article underscores the importance of students' self-determined orientation in studying Japanese, offering valuable insights for Japanese language teachers into ways to support and extend their students' learning. This aspect of the article relates to Australian Professional Standards for Teachers No. 1, 'Know students and how they learn'.

Intercultural education, Picturebooks and Refugees

Dolan, A. (2014). Intercultural education, Picturebooks and Refugees: Approaches for Language TeachersCLELE Journal, 2(1), pp. 92-109.

The article discusses how picture books can be used to teach a range of intercultural issues and enrich the linguistic and literacy skills of all learners, including those working through the medium of a second language. Six picture books on refugees are presented as examples to illustrate how these books provide teaching opportunities for topics such as compassion, empathy, tolerance, justice, conflict resolution and respect for human rights, whilst teaching critical literacies, reading and writing. A framework is presented for analysing one picture book through a series of activities that enable students and teachers to critically interrogate the topic of refugees with empathy and understanding.  (Abstract adapted from Dolan, A., 2014).

Practical relevance 
The article discusses some of the challenges teachers face when teaching about distant places. It offers valuable insights for geography teachers in general and for those who specialise in studies of Japan. It is relevant to theAustralian Curriculum: Geography and the Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia cross-curriculum priority.

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