Unrecognised language teaching: Teaching Australian Curriculum content in remote Aboriginal community schools

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.21153/tesol2020vol29no1art1423

Keywords:

Australian Curriculum, remote community schooling, English language teaching, team teaching, assistant teachers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students

Abstract

The case study in this article offers a descriptive account of challenges involved in teaching Australian Curriculum content in the common teaching context in remote communities where an Indigenous language is spoken as the everyday form of communication and students learn English in what is essentially a foreign language setting. An on-theground description of the work of a Primary school teaching team serves
to illustrate the language teaching aspect of delivering Australian Curriculum content in areas such as History, Geography and Science. This aspect of the teaching team’s work is underestimated in the curriculum itself and in the guidance provided to teachers, yet is essential for student learning in this context. While the team draws on students’ L1 and early L2 English proficiency abilities to teach curriculum content, this work is not expedited from outside their classroom. An analysis of current curriculum offerings and the teaching team’s approaches finds that they receive little direction for the extensive language planning required. The findings suggest an urgent need for tailor-made curriculum and teacher guidance which better recognise this dual language context. This article canvases different curriculum settings that would alleviate this situation considerably, not only for this teaching team but for others in similar remote schools.

Author Biography

Susan Poetsch, University of Sydney, Australia

Susan Poetsch teaches units of study on linguistics and language teaching in a Masters program for Indigenous Australian teachers of their own languages. Her PhD research is on children’s language acquisition and use in home and school contexts in a remote Central Australian community. Her teaching career was in Primary education and TESOL.

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Published

2020-12-30

How to Cite

Poetsch, S. . (2020). Unrecognised language teaching: Teaching Australian Curriculum content in remote Aboriginal community schools. TESOL in Context, 29(1), 37–58. https://doi.org/10.21153/tesol2020vol29no1art1423