Positive aspects of the Framework
It is encouraging for language teachers to see a new syllabus for their subject discipline being developed and open for consultation. The process of teachers revisiting programs with a new syllabus will have the positive effect of revitalising their practice.
Recognising the range of students’ prior learning with Option 2 mapping out two pathways is a constructive step towards maintaining student interest in their language study.
The short timeline for writing, familiarisation and implementation is going to have a significant impact on teacher workload. The suggestion from BOSTES is that the Chinese and Japanese syllabuses would be written by the end of this year. Up until the release of the Framework, language teachers in NSW have been led to believe that a new syllabus would be many years away.
This means that they have not fully engaged with the Australian Curriculum: languages from which the draft Framework draws its main structure.
To assist teachers in being ready and equipped to teach from a new syllabus, more detail or supporting documentation regarding assessment, reporting and standards is required to fully comprehend if this Framework is viable. Moreover, it would be helpful if an indication of teaching hours was given.
There is a need for more detail regarding the provision of support in the life skills content, along with how teachers could extend more able or background/heritage speakers.
There is a lack of detail in the suggested outcomes for each Stage which is due to the draft Framework being non language specific.
The dual pathway suggests more work will be needed for planning, assessing and reporting for teachers – what implications for classroom practice? Additionally, this raises the question of whether a student would ever be able to switch pathways along the continuum of K-10. It also implies pre-assessment and placement that may be beyond the scope of many schools to achieve.
There would be serious problems within schools with inconsistency in programming, assessment and reporting different languages if there is a staggered release of the different syllabuses.
Calling the Framework/syllabus ‘task-based’ is a serious concern as, while tasks are helpful when offered as suggestions for teachers, this should be clearly only a suggestion. It needs to acknowledge that there is more than one accepted approach to second language teaching.
Fiona Boughey is filling the IEU position on the BOSTES K-10 Languages Board Curriculum Committee.