This page includes information on what schools can do to make sure their language programs are high quality.
Learning a language is a sequential and cumulative process. Students learn most effectively through:
- frequent, regular lessons including those conducted entirely in the target language
- engagement over an extended period of time
- opportunities to practise and meaningfully use the language in authentic situations.
We recommend schools plan a languages program that is:
- primarily aimed at developing proficiency in the target language
- taught by a qualified teacher of the language
- delivered for a minimum of 150 minutes per week, spread as evenly as possible across the week*
- strongly supported by the school community, including by the school administration, staff, parents and students and appropriate partnerships
- resourced to an appropriate level, comparable with other learning areas in the school
- flexible in its approach to delivery and resourcing, including changing from year to year as required
- part of a planned pathway for languages learning
Continuity and frequency of language learning will contribute significantly to a student gaining proficiency in the language.
Some primary schools, in particular those that are introducing new Prep/Foundation languages programs, may face challenges in providing 150 minutes of languages education per week. If a school is unable to initially provide the recommended 150 minute time allocation it should explicitly build into its Strategic Plan strategies detailing how the school will incrementally increase time allocation for languages education. Meeting the recommended time allocation will ensure students have the opportunity to achieve a level of linguistic proficiency.
The Department's Languages Unit can advise schools on strategies to extend students' exposure to the language they are learning and meet the recommended time allocation of 150 minutes per week of languages education.
School and community commitment
Schools should develop languages programs through transparent consultation, and ensure the school and broader community are informed about the benefits of languages education. This will ensure their support and commitment for the program and enable its long term viability.
School and community commitment to a languages program can also be developed through embedding languages learning into the culture of the school.
Flexible approaches, pathways and partnerships
Greater collaboration between schools, in and across clusters, allows them to share resources and ideas. It also creates languages learning pathways for students moving between schools in a locality or in the transition from primary to secondary education. Locally developed strategies, including blended learning, can also sustain languages programs, especially in remote areas where issues of distance and staffing impact on a school's capacity to provide a program.
A flexible approach to delivery may be necessary to sustain a languages program through short term or year-to-year issues, particularly in relation to staffing. Every effort should be made to provide continuity for programs when short term issues arise. Schools should consider alternative approaches such as the use of video conferencing to share access to a qualified language teacher when one is not available on site.
Programs which are linked to other schools or have external support are more likely to be continued. Schools with sister school relationships where connections are made around languages programs provide support and motivation for both students and staff to maintain the programs.
Schools are also encouraged to explore cluster or cooperative arrangements to share languages teachers and languages support staff, and to share curriculum planning and resources (for example, linking students and teachers from different schools to undertake learning activities, sharing electronic and hard copy resources, curriculum planning to ensure consistency and continuity, and flexible delivery by video/web conferencing).
Partners can also provide advice and support, and options/suggestions for alternative delivery or resources when issues arise in relation to ongoing delivery of the program.
Student motivation and engagement
Motivation is a consistently strong predictor of successful language learning.
Student motivation and engagement with languages learning is increased when:
- languages programs are recognised and valued by parents, school leadership, teachers and the wider community
- student achievements are recognised and celebrated within the school and broader community
- students understand the cognitive, social and practical benefits of learning a language
- students have the opportunity to use the language they are learning for authentic, meaningful communication
- students have specific goals for languages learning
- students have regular opportunities to practise in a supportive environment where fluency rather than accuracy is the initial aim
- students have an interest in or understanding of the culture associated with the language