Language education in schools

RUMACCC has long been involved in research projects and consultancies on language education in our schools.

Broadband-enabled language learning

Improving the language learning and technology connection - Identifying and understanding current challenges to, and best practice in broadband enabled language learning in regional, rural and urban schools in Victoria

Currently 40% of state primary schools do not offer classes in a language other than English. Most often these are regional, rural or disadvantaged urban schools. As a result, many students cannot access language education. This project aims to address the decline in the provision of language education through the use of broadband-enabled technologies. It investigates the use of language and learning technologies in 12 Victorian schools.

As part of this project we developed a manual for principals and teachers on how to set up or participate in languages programs using virtual conferencing, available for download from the FUSE website Languages Education through Virtual Conferencing (13.8Mb pdf). This is complemented by three videos: a school principal’s perspective (121Mb m4v) on the benefits of such a program to the students, staff and school community; a school’s perspective (183MB m4v) outlining how to become part of a language program through virtual conferencing; and a language teacher’s perspective (212MB m4v) on how to develop and teach such a program.

Research publications from this project include:

  • Slaughter, Yvette, O’Brien, Annemaree, Hajek, John and Smith, Wally. 2019. "Distance education for languages – the role of technological knowledge", in Babel, 54:3, pp. 12-17
  • Slaughter, Yvette, Smith, Wally, and Hajek, John. 2019. "Videoconferencing and the networked provision of language programs in regional and rural schools", in ReCALL 31:2, pp. 204-217

This project was funded by the former Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES), then the Networked Society Institute at the University of Melbourne.

Enabling pluralism

Eliminating educational inequity in languages provision in Victorian schools

Australian governments have prioritised the need for our children to develop improved skills to communicate within a culturally and linguistically diverse Australia and in an increasingly interconnected globalised world. However, there has been widespread failure to provide for the key learning area of languages education, especially in disadvantaged rural schools. Collaborating with the Victorian Department of Education and Training, this project identified discourses surrounding instances of both successful and unsuccessful provision of languages education within these settings, with the aim of developing solutions to facilitate the (re-)introduction and long-term success of languages programs within this marginalised sector.

You can read more about this project in our publication

  • Slaughter, Yvette, Lo Bianco, Joseph, Aliani, Renata, Cross, Russell and Hajek, John. 2019. "Language programming in rural and regional Victoria: Listening to local viewpoints and designing new ways forward", in Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 42:3, pp. 274-300

This project was funded by Melbourne Social Equity Institute (MSEI) at The University of Melbourne.

Reports on language programs in schools

RUMACCC researchers have authored or co-authored several reports on language programs in schools in Victoria, as well as nationally.

Languages Other Than English (LOTE) in Victorian Government Schools

Through a long and well-established relationship with Victorian Department of Education and Training, Yvette Slaughter has conducted numerous consultancy projects with the Languages Unit at the DET. These projects involve writing the annual Victorian government Languages report based on data collected from all government schools and colleges in the state. As well as the annual reports being published for the wider population, information analysed through the surveys is used for policy development and to assist in financial decision making, as well as providing information for the federal Department of Education and Training and numerous non-government organisations. Yvette has written the reports Languages in Victorian government schools from 2003 to the present. Copies of the reports are available from the Department of Education and Training website or you can download the most recent edition (1.7Mb pdf).

English as an Additional Language (EAL) in Victorian Government Schools

Since 2007, Yvette Slaughter, along with the DET English as an Additional Language unit, has produced the annual report English as a second/additional language in Victorian government schools. These reports detail demographics of the Victorian student population, with a focus on students with a language background other than English and newly arrived students. The reports also detail funding expenditure and support programs available for schools with LOTE students. The reports are available from the Department of Education and Training EAL Reports web page.

Teaching and Learning Languages Other Than English (LOTE) in Victorian Schools

Sue Fernandez worked with the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) on a publication titled Teaching and Learning Languages Other Than English (LOTE) in Victorian Schools that ‘provides a succinct overview of LOTE as part of students’ essential learning from a range of perspectives’. The report was published in 2008 and serves as a source of valuable information for language teachers and government employees in Victoria and can be downloaded: Teaching and Learning Languages Other Than English (LOTE) in Victorian Schools Paper No. 14, 2008 (220kb pdf)

Community language programs in secondary schools

The research project Community language programs in secondary schools was conducted at RUMACCC by Professor Michael Clyne, together with Germine Youssef (Arabic), Irene Liem (Chinese), Tina Isaakidis (Greek) and Claudia Rossi Hunt (Spanish).

Melbourne (and Australia) has rich and diverse language resources, and schools play an important role in supporting the development and maintenance of these language resources. Schools can also enhance their own language programs by utilising the language resources in their local community. Effectively addressing the needs of students with various backgrounds in a community language can be a challenge. This project aimed to support teachers and schools in utilising community resources in language programs and in catering to students’ differing needs.

Research publications

Research publications from this project include:

  • Clyne, Michael, Isaakidis, Tina, Liem, Irene and Rossi Hunt, Claudia. "Developing and sharing community language resources through secondary school programmes," in International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 7(4), 2004, pp. 255-278
  • Clyne, Michael, Rossi Hunt, Claudia and Isaakidis, Tina. "Learning a community language as a third language," in International Journal of Multilingualism 1, 2004, pp. 33-52

Practical outcomes

Practical outcomes of the project include information on linguistic diversity in schools and community resources in language programs, and information brochures on multilingualism for parents and schools as well as example activities for schools.

The project was a partnership between The University of Melbourne, the Department of Education, Employment and Training (DEET), the Catholic Education Office, and the Victorian Multicultural Foundation, with funding (SPITR Grant) from the Australian Research Council.