Academic journal article Babel

Another Piece of the Puzzle: Preparing Pre-Service Language Teachers for the Australian Curriculum: Languages

Academic journal article Babel

Another Piece of the Puzzle: Preparing Pre-Service Language Teachers for the Australian Curriculum: Languages

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

As they complete their teacher education degrees, Graduate Teachers should possess knowledge and skills to plan for, and manage, learning programs for their students. Their graduate competencies include designing lessons that meet the requirements of curriculum, assessment and reporting. As they embark on a teaching career that moves them forward to 'proficient' and further to 'highly accomplished' status, they should possess a baseline set of understandings about professional contexts in schools. This professional competence must include an understanding of curriculum and curriculum processes. This article discusses a number of key issues for pre-service language teacher education students and language teacher educators in the broader national context as the details of the Australian Curriculum: Languages are emerging. These issues are termed the 'pieces of the puzzle' being considered by pre-service teachers. These 'puzzle pieces' need to be considered, understood and acted upon in order for accomplished language teaching and learning to take place in school languages programs.

KEY WORDS

Australian Curriculum, curriculum, curriculum development, pre-service language teachers, language teacher educators, Australian Curriculum: Languages

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INTRODUCTION

Pre-service language teachers currently enrolled in teacher education degree programs are, like their colleagues teaching in schools, gradually hearing more about the shape and key notions within the Australian Curriculum: Languages. Even if their experience is nothing more than keeping up with the public and professional discussions on its development by reading announcements and summary updates in professional language teacher network bulletins, their engagement with why and how the Australian Curriculum: Languages is being shaped is essential for their professional development at the pre-service level.

As pre-service language teachers complete their teacher education degrees, they are now known as 'Graduate Teachers' (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership [AITSL], 2011, p. 5), who 'possess the requisite knowledge and skills to plan for and manage learning programs for students'. Their graduate competencies, among a number of things, include designing 'lessons that meet the requirements of curriculum, assessment and reporting' (AITSL, 2011, p. 5). As they embark on a teaching career that moves them forward to 'proficient' and further to 'highly accomplished' status, they should possess a baseline set of understandings about professional contexts in schools. It may be the case that they secure full time permanent teaching positions immediately after graduation, or wait longer for a permanent full time teaching position and accept casual work in the interim. In any event, teacher registration requirements will stipulate this initial understanding of, and competence to design learning tasks, according to current curriculum priorities. Of course, now it is presumed that a developing understanding will be forming about the Australian Curriculum: Languages, even if at the time of writing this article at least, one state, New South Wales, has decided to 'continue to use existing NSW syllabuses' (Alegounarias, pers. comm., 2013).

Becoming familiar with developments in the Australian Curriculum: Languages is just one of the large and complex fields of professional knowledge, skills and understandings with which these teachers engage in the pre-service period: a complexity that recent comment on language teacher education has found to be a landscape of 'wonderments and puzzlements' (Kleinsasser, 2013, p.86). Similarly it is clear in the 'readiness to teach' literature, that the intricacies of what it means to be ready to teach are multifaceted and include, among other things, knowledge of policy and documentation, knowledge of subject matter content and the ability to plan for student learning, enacting and managing teaching, assessing and use of evidence about student learning, as well as considerations of professional attributes, personal attributes, and managing relationships and their own learning (see, for example, Haigh, Ell & Mackisack, 2013). …

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