A Central Australian Research Group and Remote Education Systems Event - "Student language learning needs in red dirt communities"

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Presenter:  Dr Samantha Disbray

Date: Sep 29, 2015

Time: 12:30pm to 1:15pm

Contact person:  Dr Samantha Disbray
T: 08 8959 5346
E: samantha.disbray@cdu.edu.au

Location:  Board Room, upstairs in the Higher Education Building, Alice Springs Campus


The Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation’s (CRC-REP) Remote Education Systems (RES) project has, over the last four years, gathered and analysed data from remote education stakeholders across Australia with a view to identifying ways that outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in remote schools, can be improved. Of the many findings that have emerged, the need for contextually responsive approaches to teaching stands out. In light of this finding we have developed lectures in the Remote Education Series, which consider what this means for workforce development, teacher qualities and standards, and curriculum matters.

In this lecture we consider the language learning needs of Indigenous students in remote schools. As NAPLaN assessments and scores represent the most significant indicator of academic success, literacy teaching and learning for remote Indigenous students is prioritised. However, the focus on literacy often means overlooking the language learning needs of students who arrive at school as speakers of languages other than English and who must learn English as an Additional Language or Dialect at school. These students must develop competency and mastery in a new language and also become literate in it. To achieve this, teachers must teach both new language through the skills and content they teach, and teach new skills and content through the language the students are developing. However, education systems do not consistently select, prepare or resource their teaching staff for this task.

This paper explores a number of questions important to responding to the language learning needs of students, particularly in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia, where 65% of students speak a language other than English as their home language. This is true of 90% of students in schools in remote communities. What do we know of student’s language repertoires and the dynamic language ecologies they grow up in? What are the purposes for different languages and language skills in student’s developing repertoires? What programs, approaches or methods are available to education systems? How will new policy developments in the NT address their language learning needs? And finally, what role will the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and the EAL/D Elaborations of the Australian Professional Standards have on addressing these questions?

About Dr Disbray 

RSVP by Monday 28 September via Outlook or thenortherninstitute@cdu.edu.au

Please direct any queries to: Dr Samantha Disbray via samantha.disbray@cdu.edu.au