Harnessing students' passion for language learning

Harnessing students' passion for language learning

Harnessing students' passion for language learning

Language teachers from across NSW recently met to discuss how language learning will be changing in schools with the introduction of a new national curriculum. At the heart of the conversation was how to capture students' interest by allowing them to be the protagonist of their learning.

In 2019, NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) will launch a new syllabus based on the introduction of a National Curriculum. A recent seminar hosted by Macquarie Japanese Studies (MJS) Centre probed what the new curriculum would mean for language teachers in NSW, and was an opportunity to discuss trends and issues in language teaching.

Over 100 language teachers from a wide range of languages attended as well as 12 academic staff from Macquarie, and language consultants from NESA.

Tomoko Koyama, Director of the MJS Centre said the key take-home message from the keynote speaker Professor Angela Scarino was about the importance of embracing diversity in the learner cohort and their unique interests when teaching languages.

"In our diverse schools, students bring their own cultures, as well as specific passions and interests to learning a new language, so we must embrace that individuality to help them learn," said Tomoko.

"The core of intercultural language learning is to find commonalities between your own and another language and culture, and to use it as an opportunity to reflect on your own culture by inquiring why such similarities and differences occurred from various perspectives such as history, society. Language is a cultural artifact.

"Language teaching is moving away from textbooks that stay the same for every student over many years, and instead seeing each student as a protagonist in their own learning and making the experience a relevant, engaging and inspiring opportunity for personal growth as an individual. It's about finding the 'why' in language learning, as much as 'what' and 'how' they learn."

The MJS Centre will be formulating a plan to provide NSW teachers ongoing professional development opportunities in 2019.

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