About 16 per cent of Australians speak a language other than English, many from immigrant backgrounds. Young people in these communities are potentially well placed to become proficient in these languages, but at present they have very limited opportunities to develop their linguistic skills through academic study. A group of researchers is examining ways in which language-education initiatives might draw on local language resources. They are looking at the pattern of existing programs and how future programs may meet particular local needs. The latest stage of the project includes ethnographic case studies in government, Catholic, independent and community languages schools, with the aim of identifying factors that contribute to or detract from the effectiveness of language programs. Researchers will be talking with school staff, interviewing students and parents, and observing classes in about 20 primary and secondary schools.
The authors identify five principles of disciplinary literacy, consider challenges to its adoption, and look at ways to help students acquire the forms of literacy needed in different disciplines – Literacy Learning: the Middle Years.