From the periphery to the centre: Securing the place at the heart of the TESOL field for First Nations learners of English as an Additional Language/Dialect




TESOL field, First Nations/Indigenous learners, EAL/D, EFL, ESL, ESD, ELL, mainstream classroom teachers, contact language ecologies, language awareness, CLIL, language proficiency assessment


Indigenous learners of English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) have historically not been the central focus of TESOL expertise here in Australia, or overseas. Despite moves towards inclusion increasing over the last two decades, there is an ongoing tendency for Indigenous EAL/D learners to remain on the periphery of current TESOL advocacy, research and practices in Australia. They are still often overlooked, as identification processes and support settings for migrant and refugee services are mismatched to Indigenous EAL/D learning contexts. Indigenous EAL/D learners, especially with un-/under-recognised contact languages (creoles and related varieties), can remain invisible in classrooms with mainstream curriculum and assessment practices (Angelo, 2013; Angelo & Hudson, 2018; Gawne et al., 2016; Macqueen et al., 2019). Hence, we argue that understanding and consideration of Indigenous EAL/D learners’ needs should become a priority in TESOL initiatives. This paper aims to place Indigenous EAL/D learners at the centre by alerting the TESOL field to a recent body of research and development on new Indigenous contact languages and whole class EAL/D teaching and assessment practices. Clarifying substantial issues and providing solutions, the paper makes Indigenous EAL/D its central focus, highlighting areas that otherwise result in “forgettings” about needs particular to Indigenous EAL/D learners.
Thus informed, the Australian TESOL profession will surely include First Nations EAL/D learners at the heart of future discourse and initiatives.

Author Biographies

Denise Angelo, ANU, Australia

Denise Angelo is a PhD student at ANU within the School of Literature, Languages & Linguistics. She develops and researches education policy and services differentiated for Indigenous students from Indigenous languages ecologies, including traditional and new Indigenous languages and EAL/D. 

Catherine Hudson, ANU, Australia

Catherine Hudson is an Honorary Lecturer at ANU with the School of Literature, Languages & Linguistics. Her current research is on EAL/D assessment in schools, with special application to Indigenous students. She has been a co-writer of and/or consultant on a number of EAL/D proficiency scales.


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How to Cite

Angelo, D. ., & Hudson, C. . (2020). From the periphery to the centre: Securing the place at the heart of the TESOL field for First Nations learners of English as an Additional Language/Dialect. TESOL in Context, 29(1), 5–35.