Editorial

By Morgan, Anne-Marie | Babel, November 2012 | Go to article overview

Editorial


Morgan, Anne-Marie, Babel


It is with great pleasure, considerable trepidation and a sense of honour that I begin my role as Editor of Babel, following in a long line of inspiring predecessors, whom I acknowledge for the dedicated and high-quality contributions they have made to the AFMLTA and to the scholarly work of the languages education profession.

I work at the University of South Australia as a Research Fellow in the School of Education. Regular readers of Babel may be familiar with my work that has appeared in recent issues. I have been a member of the executive of the AFMLTA for the past four years, a period of considerable activity and volatility in the languages community, and one of intense political lobbying and national debate. The development of the Australian Curriculum is perhaps the most important change of this period, with a shape paper for languages now guiding the development of, significantly, language-specific and variable pathway curricula in a range of languages for students in Australian schools. This complex process will continue to occupy the interests and involvement of languages educators across Australia over the next few years (and beyond). Other significant developments include the establishment of the Languages and Cultures Network of Australian Universities (LCNAU); the roll out, and rapidly approaching end of the Australian Government's National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP); and the 'expiry' of the MCEECDYA National Statement and Plan for languages education, with no replacement yet in sight to guide languages policy and funding in Australian schools. We await implementation of the Gonski review of school funding, which promises to address equity in opportunity for all Australian students. Regrettably the government has linked success of the Gonski measures to a target, and experience with setting targets of this kind (e.g. that at least 12% of students completing Year 12 should have 'fluency' in one of the four targeted Asian languages) shows us that this approach is problematic, promoting distractions and emphases that fail to account for the diversity of learners and learning contexts and that lead to narrowly focused conceptions of curriculum and learning. We also look forward to the Henry white paper on Australia's engagement with Asia, and continue to watch the roll out of policy and key documents from the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) that increasingly determine the professional lives of Australian educators, from pre-service education programs, through registration and standards to advanced accreditation and performance appraisal. …

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