Article published in:Language Teaching and Learning in Australia
Edited by Chris Mann and Richard B. Baldauf, Jr. †
[Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. Series S 9] 1992
► pp. 33–48
Language teachers by necessity, not choice
Early childhood teachers in a multilingual society
More than 90 different languages are spoken in Australia, and approximately 14 percent of children in Australia’s schools speak a language other than English at home (Clyne 1988:22). In many classrooms, between 70 and 100 percent of children fall into this category, particularly at their entry point into formal schooling, usually at the age of five or six. As a result, the majority of mainstream teachers, especially those in early childhood programs for children under the age of eight years, find themselves unwitting language teachers. Yet the majority of these teachers, even those who are themselves bilingual, have had only a rudimentary orientation to bilingual teaching models and methodologies in their preservice training. Currently, the most common model of English language teaching in Australia’s schools (with some significant but relatively minor exceptions) combines limited specialist intervention with classroom ‘submersion’. The recent policy paper, Australia’s language, does not signal any change to this situation. It is the thesis of this paper that, within the unified national system of tertiary education, there resides potential for closer links between Schools of Education, Schools of Linguistics and Schools of Modern Languages that might enable the education system to make better use of its existing linguistic resources for the good of both individuals and the nation.
Published online: 01 January 1992
Cited by 1 other publications
Tangen, Donna & Ruth Fielding-Barnsley
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