Language Policy in Australia
In Australia, the issues connected with the language policy are discussed both at the federal and state levels. Thus, special language programmes which are worked out in states develop along with the federal Australian Language and Literacy Policy. According to this programme, the most widely spread language in Australia is English, and the literacy programme is realised in relation to the norms of the Australian English Standard.
However, Australia is the multi-cultural and multi-lingual country that is why much attention is paid to the development of the minorities’ languages in the country.
From this point, National Statement for Languages Education in Australian Schools regulates the realisation of the language policy according to the English language (which is not recognized as an official one) and the languages of minorities in the country (Ingram, 2000).
The expansion of English among the Australians is the result of the definite historical events. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact, the majority of the population speaks English, there are a lot of persons who are immigrants or have their origins in the other countries, and they speak the languages of their communities.
Today, the Australian government and the local authorities in states concentrate on preserving the diversity of the languages in the country and support the educational programmes according to which two or more languages are studied at school. The multi-lingual approach is considered as effective from the point of the political, economic, and cultural strategic development of the country.
Thus, the bilingual competence is discussed as the contemporary tendency in Australia which should be realised with the help of definite national and state programmes (Liddicoat, 2005). In this situation, the English language is the primary language in Australia, and the other languages are discussed as the languages of minorities.
According to the peculiarities of the bilingual situation in the Italian-speaking community in Melbourne (Victoria), two-way immersion programmes are the most appropriate variant for realizing there.
To provide the academic excellence and the high level of the students’ proficiency in the primary language and the language of minority, it is necessary to follow such principles as the equal status of the both languages at class, the usage of the techniques which make instructions comprehensible for the two groups of students, and the focus not only on cross-lingual peculiarities but also on the cross-cultural ones.
Implementing the two-way immersion programmes, it is important to concentrate on the fact that according to different variations of the programme used in such countries as the USA and Canada, it is possible to regulate the percentage of using L1 and L2 at class.
The most effective variant for achieving the high results in the students’ proficiency is the equal focus on the both languages in order to avoid the possibility to limit this or that language. In this case, the teacher’s code switching is caused by the necessity of using the instructions in L1 or L2, and the students’ code switching is caused by the peculiarities of reacting to these instructions (Gomez, Freeman, & Freeman, 2005).
Depending on the characteristic features of the programme, it is significant to avoid the influence of the peculiarities of one language on another. It is important to pay attention to the equal development of the competence in the oral and written languages which should be assessed with the help of definite tests (Bedore & Pena, 2008).
The assessment of the proficiency in the both languages is the important requirement for the programme. To be the effective bilingual teacher, it is necessary to have the excellent competence in the both languages and to follow the two-way immersion programmes strictly.
Bedore, L. M., & Pena, E. D. (2008). Assessment of bilingual children for identification of language impairment: current findings and implications for practice. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 11(1), 1-29.
Gomez, L., Freeman, D., & Freeman, Y. (2005). Dual language education: A promising 50-50 model. Bilingual Research Journal, 29(1), 145–164.
Ingram, D. E. (2000). Language policy and language education in Australia. Retrieved from web.
Liddicoat, A. (2005). Culture for language learning in Australian language-in-education policy. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 28(2), 28-43.