14-15 December 2020
(Sydney time)

Language in the School Curriculum (LiSC) Special Interest Group (SiG)

Building Bridges between Linguistics and Schools

Tuesday 15 December 2020, 9.00AM - 11.00AM (Sydney time)

The Linguistics in the School Curriculum SiG is holding its third annual session on bridging the gap between the Australian school education system and linguistics in tertiary education. This year it is taking the form of short (approx. 5 min) presentations. The intention of the meeting of the LiSC SiG is not merely to allow for presentations on these topics, but also to continue building a network of academic linguists and teaching professionals who are able to effectively join together to serve their common interests.

09:00 - 09:05

Welcome and Introduction
Jean Mulder

09:05 - 09:15

Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in education
Stephanie Woerde

09:15 - 09:25

The evolution of Aboriginal language curricula in New South Wales
Michael Walsh

09:25 - 09:35

The use of Australian Aboriginal children’s books in language revitalisation
Janette Thambyrajah

09:35 - 09:45

Outreach is a thing! Bringing linguistics to WA classrooms
Celeste Rodríguez Louro

09:45 - 09:55

Writing a crash course in linguistics
Lauren Gawne

09:55 - 10:00


10:00 - 10:10

What do teachers want?
Iain Giblin, Kulam Shanmugam and Lyn Tieu

10:10 - 10:20

Enabling students to find their voice in the English classroom
Anna Stewart

10:20 - 10:30

A Corpus Analysis of the Oral Language Productive Vocabulary of Children at School Entry to Inform Australian Curriculum
Clarence Green

10:30 - 10:45

OzCLO: Program sustainability and sharing the workload
Elisabeth Mayer

10:45 - 11:00

LiSC Special Interest Group Meeting
Jean Mulder


Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in education
Stephanie Woerde, Reconciliation Australia

The Ngunnawal word, narragunnawali, means ‘alive,’ ‘wellbeing,’ ‘coming together’ and ‘peace’ – it reminds us that, to foster a strong sense of wellbeing, coming together and peace between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the wider Australian community, reconciliation needs to be an active, living process. Words, too, are in themselves active, and can impact on reconciliation-related attitudes, understandings and relationships in very real and reifying ways.

This presentation will provide an introduction to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Languages resources, as well as wider terminology guidelines, available to schools and early learning services through Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali program and free-to-access online platform. In doing so, it will highlight how a focus on Languages and linguistics can meaningfully support educational institutions to effectively ‘talk’ and ‘walk’ reconciliation.

The evolution of Aboriginal language curricula in New South Wales
Michael Walsh, AIATSIS/ANU/The University of Sydney

Building on research and community consultations from 2002 and earlier, this syllabus was published in 2003 Aboriginal Languages. Mandatory and Elective Courses. K-10 Syllabus. Sydney: Board of Studies, New South Wales. About 10 years later further research and community consultations led to a national curricular framework: Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages. Much more recently the New South Wales Educational Standards Authority has taken steps to adapt these curricula for New South Wales, published in October 2020. This presentation, building on around 20 years of involvement, will briefly outline the evolution of Aboriginal language curricula in New South Wales.

The use of Australian Aboriginal children’s books in language revitalisation
Janette Thambyrajah, The University of Sydney

This talk will briefly survey the breadth of Australian Aboriginal children’s books which use a heritage language, and will examine how these books are used in revitalisation of Australian Aboriginal languages. The books come in a variety of different styles including: simple alphabet or counting books, books which document dreamtime stories, bilingual ‘readers’, books co-created with children, multimedia stories online, stories written predominantly in English with the occasional insertion of heritage word, books for the purpose of transmission of culture and history, and books used in schools that are written specifically for the teaching of language. The books vary according to the level of spoken heritage language and in the prominence of the heritage language versus English.

Outreach is a thing! Bringing linguistics to WA classrooms
Celeste Rodríguez Louro, The University of Western Australia

As difficult as it might be for us to make sense of why this is the case, linguistics still remains a mystery to the general population. This is problematic, especially in a country like Australia, where multiple languages and cultures co-exist. What kinds of misconceptions and prejudices can be dispelled simply by sharing the major insights of our discipline? In this short presentation I describe a novel teacher professional development – ‘Understanding Language’ – offered by UWA linguists in collaboration with the WA Department of Education. I outline the motivations for this offering, underscoring the ways in which building awareness about linguistic diversity and linguistic myths and ideologies can breathe new life into the school curriculum and potentially change the lives of those whose diversities are not always fully understood.

Writing a crash course in linguistics
Lauren Gawne, La Trobe University

In 2020 Lingthusiasm (Lauren Gawne & Gretchen McCulloch) teamed up with Complexly to write a 16 video Introduction to Linguistics series for Complexly's popular Crash Course YouTube channel. In this talk I discuss how we came up with a syllabus that was engaging for a range of audiences, and how we have used the Mutual Intelligibility newsletter to make these videos more relevant to the classroom context.

What do teachers want?
Iain Giblin (Macquarie University), Kulam Shanmugam (Western Sydney University) and Lyn Tieu (Western Sydney University)

The Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2012) requires teachers to have considerable knowledge about language (KAL) and the ability to introduce this knowledge into various educational contexts. The KAL requirement in the Australian Curriculum requires teachers to have explicit, conscious KAL that they can articulate with confidence and accuracy, however, research suggests that teachers often lack such knowledge (see for example Horan, 2003; Harper and Rennie, 2009). In this study we will survey teachers to determine how linguists can support teachers in the KAL requirements. Once we have an understanding of what teachers require to extend their KAL, linguists can contribute professional development and classroom-ready resources that are aligned with the needs of teachers and students and that fulfil the requirements of the Australian Curriculum.

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2012). The Australian Curriculum: English, Version 3.0. Sydney: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.

Harper, H. & Rennie, J. (2009). ‘I had to go out and get myself a book on grammar’: A study of pre-service teachers’ knowledge about language. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 32(1), 22-37.

Horan, A. (2003). English Grammar in Schools. Paper presented at the 2002 Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society, 13-19 July, Macquarie University.

Enabling students to find their voice in the English classroom
Anna Stewart, St Bernard’s College, Essendon, Victoria

The current accepted practise of English in the classroom is embedded in the assumptions that language and grammar are synonymous, and that the formal standard variant of English is the only acceptable expression for someone who is well-educated. I propose that these linguistic values underpinning the English classroom carry an out-dated viewpoint that promotes discrimination and prevents many students from growing their own voice, the result of which is often a lack of engagement and the seeming inability for those students to express independent thought. I wish to suggest that an entry level high school curriculum that places language at its core, driven by the investigation of various texts, enables all students to develop a sense of identity as well as an authentic and confident voice in a contemporary society.

A Corpus Analysis of the Oral Language Productive Vocabulary of Children at School Entry to Inform Australian Curriculum
Clarence Green, Federation University

Oral language contains the vocabulary initially recommended for teaching reading and writing. There is a need to better understand what this oral language resource consists of at school entry, particularly given the diversity amongst children, both to address inequalities and because the Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2014, p.4) emphasizes that “due to its importance in literacy development, vocabulary is included within and across sub-elements”. This presentation profiles the oral language productive vocabulary in 3.6 million words of children (> 800) under 5. A productive vocabulary resource is developed with 2767 vocabulary targets. This profile represents highly productive vocabulary presumably known by most children and more advanced vocabulary not part of every child’s oral language. The paper demonstrates the pedagogical implications of this research in the context of the National Literacy Learning Progressions of the Australian National Curriculum.

OzCLO: Program sustainability and sharing the workload
Elisabeth Mayer, The Australian National University and Griffith University

Raising linguistic awareness among schools and teachers critically depends on voluntary outreach by linguists. Since the introduction of OZCLO in 2007 at two locations, University of Sydney and Melbourne University, OzCLO has experienced a period of continuous growth thanks to linguists from all States and Territories, except for Tasmania, who have very generously dedicated time to build strong connections with school teachers through voluntary outreach. Finding time to support OzCLO has always been difficult. “Academics are so stretched nowadays it is hard to find interested people with actual time to contribute”, as Verna Rieschild (OzCLO Chair) noted in 2015. Since last year, with academics stretched to the limit by ever increasing publication pressure, the volunteer time component has become the most significant challenge OzCLO is facing now. This year, Western Australia decided not to participate after considering the benefit-to-cost ratio for them. Additionally, they are considering participating on a biannual basis, unless they receive financial support to pay for their outreach.

In this brief presentation, we will discuss the challenges OzCLO is currently facing and possible ways of addressing those. These are firstly, the value of OzCLO in terms of benefit-to-cost ratio based on a survey with participating students and survey data from local chairs and teachers participating actively in OzCLO. A second related factor is the sudden drop in numbers for participating schools and teams, from 80 schools and 2042 participants in 2019 to 58 schools and 1546 participants in 2020.

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