Academic journal article Babel

Editorial

Academic journal article Babel

Editorial

Article excerpt

The final issue of Volume 49 of Babel takes up issues that continue to influence the delicate balancing act we do as teachers of languages working across the range of education contexts. These issues are transition considerations, as students move from early years to primary years, to secondary schools, and to university; the confounding complexity of teaching Chinese to widely diverse learner cohorts; and an old thorny issue of considering how to teach and have learners learn increasing language 'banks' or resources, in the form of vocabulary, such that these banks can be used effectively in communicative and intercultural contexts of language use.

The first two papers are 'partner' research, in which one team of researchers sought to understand the experience and attitudes of senior secondary language learners preparing for transition to tertiary learning contexts, and their preparedness for the different learning environment they would encounter; and the other looked at the same issue with new tertiary learners of languages. Robyn Moloney and Lesley Harbon's paper shows us how students in three schools in New South Wales responded to questions concerning motivation to learn languages, confidence in their own self-efficacy and capacity, and construction of a 'future self' that they envisioned they would be in tertiary learning contexts. Their findings indicate that assisting students to construct such an image, and to have aspirations associated with feelings of competence and motivation to continue to study languages do indeed seem to prepare students well for this significant transition. Carolyn Stott and Ruth Fielding, as the other half of the research team, found in their study of first-year university students in one Sydney university, that the transition to tertiary learning, and in languages in particular, is perhaps not as challenging as is assumed, with most students in their sample making a successful transition, without too many surprises confronting them. All these authors, however, point out that it is not always a smooth transition, and call for improved communication between secondary and tertiary languages educators, as a way not only of fostering smooth transitions, but indeed of promoting increased take up or continuation of language studies at university. …

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