ESL in the current English syllabi of NSW secondary schools
Standard Australian English is Australia’s national language and In NSW Australia, the study of the English language is mandatory for all secondary school students (stages 4-6,) regardless of whether they are native English speakers or English second language (ESL) learners. New South Wales (NSW) is the Australian state with the greatest annual intake of immigrant populations (Iredale & Fox, 1997) and yet, currently there is no ESL syllabus for stages 4 and 5 of secondary schooling in NSW; there is instead a program for the integration of a set of ‘ESL scales’ (Curriculum Corporation, 1994) There is, however, a separate ESL syllabus for stage 6. Both of these approaches to teaching English as a second language in an English-speaking country have their relative strengths and weaknesses.
The NSW Multicultural Education Policy acknowledges that “approximately one quarter of all students in NSW government schools come from language backgrounds other than English, both overseas and Australian born” (NSW Department of Education and Communities, 2005) All students who enter Stage 4 of the NSW secondary schooling system must undertake study of the NSW English Years 7-10 Syllabus. (Board of Studies NSW, 2003) This system is currently in transition to the Australian National Curriculum, but the structure and content of the new curriculum and syllabus remains largely the same, focusing on critical and analytical study of the English language. Such concepts are especially challenging to ESL learners, as research indicates that ESL students can be fluent in conversational English in as short a period as two years, (Gibbons, 2002) but the academic development needed to succeed in secondary English requires a level of literacy that can take anywhere from 5-11 years to develop. (Ernst-Slavit, Moore, & Maloney, 2002) As there is currently no separate ESL syllabus for stages 4 and 5, and none in the...
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