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  • Policy 2.28 

    Languages

    Rationale

    It is widely recognised that the study of languages is an integral part of a broad and balanced education for all learners. It offers students cultural, linguistic and intellectual advantages and the opportunity to gain important cognitive skills. Further, socio-cultural understandings developed through the study of languages promote positive cross-cultural relationships and contribute to the development within each student of the potential for full participation in a global society.

    The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians1 identifies the study of languages as one of the eight key learning areas of the curriculum, as does Victorian educational policy through the Victorian Essential Learning Standards.2  

    This policy outlines principles that should guide the provision of Languages in Catholic schools. It also recommends procedures that will ensure quality language teaching and learning.

    Principles

    The provision of languages in Catholic schools is guided by the following principles:

    1. All students should have the opportunity to learn a language in addition to English.
    2. The vision, purpose and rationale for languages need to be clearly articulated.
    3. Languages, as a key learning area, should be planned for and adequately resourced.
    4. The study of languages should be promoted for their intrinsic educational value and for their contribution to students' understanding of Australian society and of world cultures.
    5. The study of languages should be fully embedded within the distinctive school culture, the organisational structure and the curriculum, with attention to the cultural and linguistic heritage of students.
    6. Students should be supported in accessing the study of a particular language.
    7. Selection of language teachers should be based on qualifications in the target language and second language teaching methodology.
    8. Language programs should have high expectations and aim for linguistic competence commensurate with assessable stages of development.
    9. Allocation of time and frequency of exposure to language teaching should be sufficient to develop students' linguistic competence.

    Procedures

    In selecting languages for study, schools should take into account:

    • the significance of a language to the school community and its support for the language;
    • students' prior language experience;
    • continuity of learning from primary to secondary school;
    • opportunities for developing language proficiency;
    • teacher availability.

    To ensure effective provision of languages, schools should:

    • promote the study of languages within the life of the school and its community;
    • commit adequate resources to support and maintain language programs;
    • ensure time allocation and frequency of exposure to support students' learning;
    • promote a learning environment that sustains students' interest in the study of languages;
    • support quality teaching by qualified teachers;
    • reinforce the status and profile of language teachers.

    In developing language curriculum, schools should:

    • plan within the context of overall school curriculum provision;
    • work in partnership with school community groups;
    • develop courses on a sequential basis with clearly defined outcomes and standards;
    • support and encourage language teachers through quality professional development to build skills and knowledge in both language and methodology;
    • provide language programs that are explicitly supported by school leadership who should have the opportunity for professional development about language programs.

    For effective language programs, teachers should:

    • use the target language in diverse cultural contexts;
    • cater for diverse learning styles, prior learning and understanding, and build on students' prior knowledge;
    • provide a range of language learning models and contexts to motivate students and to extend their language skills;
    • engage students in purposeful learning, including culturally appropriate and authentic language experiences;
    • use new technologies to engage students in meaningful use of language within and beyond school;
    • undertake regular monitoring, assessment and reporting of students' language learning.

    Catholic Education Melbourne will support schools in planning for sustainable provision of languages through appropriate funding, policy, advice and professional guidance. 

    Catholic Education Melbourne February 2009
     



    Endnotes
    1 Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) 2008, The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.
    2 Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority 2005, Victorian Essential Learning Standards Overview.