The Indigenous Language Perspectives (ILP) team supports the teaching and learning of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Queensland state schools. Many of these students speak two or more languages including traditional, creole and contact variety languages or dialects which are all different to Standard Australian English (SAE).
In school these students may be learning SAE as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D). Indigenous EAL/D learners need specific teaching approaches to build a language foundation for successful classroom learning. They may require additional support to equitably access their age-appropriate curriculum.
The ILP team builds the capacity of teachers, schools, communities and regions to meet the language learning needs of Indigenous EAL/D students as they learn the curriculum through SAE.
The Department of Education supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to be 3 Way Strong, which means students are supported to enjoy and celebrate their home languages and cultures whilst also being given the explicit language teaching needed to achieve strong outcomes in their academic learning.
3 way strong
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Queensland have rich and complex language backgrounds. Their languages are more than just a means to communicate, but are essential characteristics unique to people and communities, and their sense of identity.
Many Indigenous students in Queensland state schools may begin school speaking a home language variety that is not Standard Australian English (SAE).
Whilst some may speak traditional languages, today significant numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students speak, as their first language/s, varieties that have arisen due to language contact and language shift, making them also learners of English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) when they come to school.
In the past, these languages and dialects were often mistaken for English. However, there are significant and systematic differences between these languages and the Standard Australian English (SAE) of the Australian Curriculum and classrooms.
This means that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who come to school speaking these languages need to be appropriately supported as learners of a second language or dialect.
The ILP team works with schools and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to celebrate contact variety languages. This work is reflected in a series of vernacular language posters.
These posters have been created to bring recognition to and to value the dialects that make each community unique.
To respond appropriately to a student’s language learning needs, teachers need to know the level of SAE language development the student is currently at and then explicitly teach to build on this. Teachers can assess a student’s SAE proficiency using the Bandscales State Schools (Qld) for English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) learners.
To assist schools to identify Indigenous EAL/D students within their cohorts, the ILP team delivers professional development to build capability in:
- understanding the historical development and key aspects of the languages and dialects which many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students speak as first languages
- developing school processes at enrolment or within classrooms to identify Indigenous EAL/D students
- building knowledge and respect for the language competence students bring as speakers of their first languages.
Use the Bandscales State Schools (Qld) for English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) learners to:
- map student proficiency in SAE
- monitor student SAE development over time
- plan for learning support needed to enable Indigenous EAL/D students to access the intended curriculum across all learning areas.
Differentiate for Indigenous EAL/D students by:
- identifying the SAE language demands of learning and assessment tasks
- explicitly teaching the target SAE language needed to engage with the curriculum
- utilising effective strategies in daily classroom teaching.
Whilst only a few Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students may speak a traditional language as their first language all Indigenous students have the right to access their traditional languages and cultures.
ILP can assist schools to provide Aboriginal students and Torres Strait Islander students access to their heritage through the development and implementation of Aboriginal language programs and Torres Strait Islander language programs.