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Learning in English

Students develop knowledge, understanding and skills across the strands of Language, Literature and Literacy. Each strand contributes its own distinctive goals, body of knowledge, history of ideas and interests to the study of English. 

Learning about and using language

In the Language strand, students develop their knowledge of the English language and how it works. They learn that changes in English are related to historical developments and the geographical differences of its users over the centuries and that there are many differences in dialect and accent. They learn how language enables people to interact effectively, to build and maintain relationships and to express and exchange knowledge, skills, attitudes, feelings and opinions. They discover the patterns and purposes of English usage, including spelling, grammar and punctuation at the levels of the word, sentence and extended text, and they study the connections between these levels. By developing a body of knowledge about these patterns and their connections, students learn to communicate effectively through coherent, well-structured sentences and texts. They gain a consistent way of understanding and talking about language, language-in-use and language-as-system, so they can reflect on their own speaking and writing and discuss these productively with others.

The Language strand is based on concepts drawn largely from historical and linguistic accounts of the English language. These approaches draw attention to the ways in which languages change, and to the distinction between language-in-use and language-as-system. These approaches also acknowledge that students’ ability to use grammar will exceed their ability to explicitly reflect on grammar. Young children, for example, will use complex sentences before they can explain how these are structured.

These approaches, in describing language, also pay attention to both the structure (syntax) and meaning (semantics) at the level of the word, the sentence and the text. The English curriculum uses standard grammatical terminology within a contextual framework, in which language choices are seen to vary according to the topics at hand, the nature and proximity of the relationships between the language users, and the modalities or channels of communication available.

Through the study of different social and geographical dialects, students can explore the many languages and dialects spoken in Australia including Aboriginal English and that these languages may have different writing systems and oral traditions.

The focus areas in Language, which provide a more detailed view of the curriculum, are available from the Scope and Sequence page.

The place of literature

The Literature strand aims to engage students in the study of literary texts of personal, cultural, social and aesthetic value. These texts include some that are recognised as having enduring social and artistic value and some that attract contemporary attention. Texts are chosen because they are judged to have the potential for enriching the lives of students, expanding the scope of their experience and because they represent effective and interesting features of form and style. Learning to appreciate literary texts and to create their own literary texts enriches students’ understanding of human experiences and the capacity for language to deepen those experiences. It builds students’ knowledge about how language can be used for aesthetic ends, to create particular emotional, intellectual or philosophical effects. Students interpret, appreciate, evaluate and create literary texts such as short stories, novels, poetry, prose, plays, film and multimodal texts, in spoken, print and digital/online forms.

The Literature strand also gives students the opportunity to study the processes by which certain literary works become recognised, and why it is that most cultures have works they cherish.

There are many approaches to the study of literature. In the English curriculum, the sources drawn on most substantially include:

  • close reading to develop a critical understanding and appreciation of the aesthetics and intellectual aspects of texts
  • cultural studies, with emphasis on the different ways in which literature is significant in everyday life
  • structuralism, with its emphasis on close analysis of literary works and the key ideas on which they are based; for example, the detailed stylistic study of differing styles of literary work
  • comparativism, with its emphasis on comparisons of works of literature from different language, ethnic and cultural backgrounds
  • historicism, with its emphasis on exploring the relationships between historical, cultural and literary traditions.

The focus areas in Literature, which provide a more detailed view of the curriculum, are available from the Scope and Sequence page.

Literacy in English

The Literacy strand aims to develop students’ ability to interpret and create texts with appropriateness, accuracy, confidence, fluency and efficacy for learning in and out of school, and for participating in the workplace and community. Texts chosen include media texts, everyday texts and workplace texts from increasingly complex and unfamiliar settings, ranging from the everyday language of personal experience to more abstract, specialised and technical language, including the language of schooling and academic study. Students learn to adapt language to meet the demands of more general or more specialised purposes, audiences and contexts. They learn about the different ways in which knowledge and opinion are represented and developed in texts, and about how more or less abstraction and complexity can be shown through language and through multimodal representations. This means that print and digital contexts are included, and that listening, viewing, reading, speaking, writing and creating are all developed systematically and concurrently.

The Literacy strand includes a focus on:

  • fluency in the sound-letter correspondences of English
  • an expanding reading, writing and speaking vocabulary and an understanding of grammatical and textual patterns to enable learning from texts encountered in and out of school, and to create effective and innovative texts
  • fluency and innovation in reading, viewing and creating texts in different settings
  • the skill and disposition needed to analyse and understand the philosophical, moral, political and aesthetic bases on which many texts are built
  • expanding the range of materials listened to, viewed and read, and experimenting with innovative ways of expressing increasingly subtle and complex ideas through texts.

The focus areas in Literacy, which provide a more detailed view of the curriculum, are available from the Scope and Sequence page.

The study of texts

Texts are the basis for study across the three modes of Reading and Viewing, Writing and Speaking and Listening. Texts can be written, spoken or multimodal, and in print or digital/online forms. Multimodal texts combine language with other means of communication such as visual images, soundtrack or spoken word, as in film or digital media. Texts provide important opportunities for learning about aspects of human experience and about aesthetic value. Many of the tasks that students undertake in and out of school involve understanding and producing imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, media texts, everyday texts and workplace texts.

Texts are drawn from world and Australian literature. They include the oral narrative traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, texts from Asia, texts from Australia’s immigrant cultures and texts of the students’ choice.

Literature refers to past and present texts from a range of cultural contexts that are valued for their form and style and are recognised as having enduring or artistic value. While the nature of what constitutes literary texts is dynamic and evolving, they are seen as having personal, social, cultural and aesthetic value and potential for enriching students’ scope of experience. Literature includes a broad range of forms such as novels, poetry, short stories and plays, fiction for young adults and children, multimodal texts such as film, and a variety of non-fiction. Literary texts also include excerpts from longer texts. This enables a range of literary texts to be included within any one level for close study or comparative purposes.

Through the selection of appropriate texts, students develop an awareness and appreciation of, and respect for, the literature of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, including storytelling traditions (oral narrative) as well as contemporary literature. Students develop understandings of the social, historical and cultural contexts associated with different uses of language and textual features.

Information Communication Technologies and English

Information Communication Technologies (ICT) are powerful tools that can support student learning. Students can develop and demonstrate their understanding of concepts and content in English through using a range of ICT tools. It is also important that students know how to use these ICT efficiently and responsibly, as well as learning how to protect themselves and secure their data.

Details of how ICT can support student learning in English is set out in the attached Information Communication Technologies and English pdf.

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