A change of culture that makes sense in anyone’s language

Research driven by UniSA has been embedded in the professional practice of more than 10,000 language teachers nationwide, adding a cultural focus to the way languages are learned across Australia.

Work on intercultural language learning by Associate Professor Angela Scarino, Director of UniSA’s Research Centre for Languages and Cultures, has been used to set the curriculum and assessment for languages, including Aboriginal, both statewide and nationally. This method integrates the study of culture to language learning.

UniSA’s research has been incorporated into professional standards and in practice by more than 10,000 teachers in Australia.

UniSA researchers developed and led a national program of professional development, with some 2,500 teachers working directly with researchers to change the understanding and practices of language teachers.

In addition, all tertiary Education degree programs in Australian universities now draw deeply on UniSA’s reports, guides and web-based resources for their curriculum studies. One of these, Teaching and Learning Languages: a Guide, was commissioned by the federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, and was distributed to every school in Australia.

Recommended for educators and students alike, it explains how each of us uses our own culture and language as the lens through which we interpret other people’s languages, and then opens a window to the cultures which gave rise to those languages.

Rob Randall, CEO of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, was pleased to see a more uniform approach to language learning nationally.

“Instead of leaving each state and territory to do their own thing in terms of languages curriculum development, there is greater consistency, increased ability to support languages, and efficiencies in terms of resource effort.”

Ultimately, this has led to a fundamental shift in Australian education, with intercultural understanding now accepted as one of the seven general capabilities for student development.