Academic journal article Babel

Implementing a Content and Language Integrated Learning Program in New South Wales Primary Schools: Teachers' Perceptions of the Challenges and Opportunities

Academic journal article Babel

Implementing a Content and Language Integrated Learning Program in New South Wales Primary Schools: Teachers' Perceptions of the Challenges and Opportunities

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

In 2009, the then State Minister for Education in New South Wales, Verity Firth, announced a plan to introduce bilingual education in four primary schools across the state for the National Asian Languages and Studies in School Program (NALSSP) priority languages: Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese and Korean. This paper reports on one aspect of a larger project undertaken by the researchers to examine how the schools, teachers, parents and children in the four schools experienced the implementation of this program and how they viewed the success or otherwise of the program at the end of the first two years of policy implementation. This paper focuses on reporting the perceptions of teachers (the bilingual teachers themselves, the support (classroom and assistant) teachers and senior executive teachers at each school) in relation to the implementation of this innovative and challenging model of languages education in the Australian context. The findings indicate that implementation of such programs is challenging, and that to succeed teachers need support to collaboratively plan, to develop their understandings of bilingual styles of teaching, and that a whole school approach to such a program facilitates smoother implementation.

KEY WORDS

CLIL, language teaching, language learning, primary languages education, accomplished teaching of languages and cultures

CONTEXT

In 2009, the then State Minister for Education in New South Wales, Verity Firth, announced a plan to Introduce bilingual education in four primary schools in NSW for the NALSSP priority languages: Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese and Korean. This paper reports one set of data from the larger project undertaken by the researchers to examine how the schools, teachers, parents and children involved experienced the implementation of this program and how they viewed the success or otherwise of the program after two years. This paper focuses on reporting the perceptions of teachers (the bilingual teachers themselves, the support teachers and senior executive teachers at each school) in relation to the implementation of this Innovative and challenging model of languages education for the Australian context.

After a call for expressions of interest was released by the then Department of Education and Training NSW, four schools were selected to implement what were termed 'bilingual programs', one In each of the four specified priority languages in four different schools (see http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/secondary/languages/bilingual/index.htm and http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/nalssp/ for further information).

One of the criteria outlined in the parameters for program implementation was that the language to be taught was not intended to be a language maintenance program (that is, a program which enables students to maintain their skills in a language which Is spoken at home) or heritage language program (that is, a language deemed as part of the student's background and which was the medium of some formal schooling prior to living in Australia). Rather, the bilingual programs in the four schools were intended to be taught through a second language program model for second language learners (ACARA, 2011, p. 21).

   Second language learners are those
   who are introduced to learning the
   target language at school as an
   additional, new language for them.
   The first language used before they
   start school and/or the language
   they use at home is not the target
   language.

Such programs add a new language for all (or most) students in the program. The programs were therefore intended to be potentially open to any student enrolled, and to increase the pool of students learning and using an additional language.

In each school there was a very short time between notification of selection for the program (September 2009) and the first class starting (late January 2010). …

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