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  This page updated Thursday, November 24, 2011 7:34 AM

From the WA Curriculum Framework

Students learn about language and how to use it effectively through their engagement with and study of texts. The term “text” refers to any form of written, spoken or visual communication involving language. The texts through which students learn about language in English are wide-ranging and varied, from brief conversations to lengthy and complex forms of writing. The study of specific texts is the means by which students achieve the desired outcomes of English, rather than an end in itself. Students learn to create texts of their own and to engage with texts produced by other people. Teaching English involves recognising, accepting, valuing and building on students’ existing language competence, including the use of non-standard forms of English, and extending the range of language available to students. In the English Learning Area, students develop functional and critical literacy skills. They learn to control and understand the conventions of Standard Australian English that are valued and rewarded by society and to reflect on and critically analyse their own use of language and the language of others.

The importance of language
Language plays a central role in human life.

  • It provides a vehicle for communication,
  • a tool for thinking,
  • a means of creativity
  • and a source of pleasure.

 An understanding of language and the ability to use it effectively gives students access to knowledge, enables them to play an active part in society and contributes to their personal growth.

Modern literacy requirements
Literacy is the ability to use language to operate successfully within one’s society. Modern citizens face diverse demands on their language skills. Changes in the nature of work and social life and the development of new technologies have produced a proliferation of new and different forms of communication. Students need high levels of literacy to meet these challenges.

Future literacy demands
Students also need to be prepared to meet future challenges. The English language is not a set of neutral, unchanging and established rules or practices that apply at all times and in all situations. Literacy requirements change over time. Those skills seen as the minimum needed to function effectively in Australian society in 1901 would not be adequate for life in the twenty-first century. The skills that make a person literate also vary between contexts. A person who is literate in one situation may not have the skills needed in another. Students need an understanding and a command of language which enables them to adapt to new demands and new situations.
While a range of specialist literacies fall within the province of other learning areas, the English learning area has a special role in developing students’ literacy because it focuses on knowledge about language and how it works.

Functional literacy
Functional literacy involves the ability to control and understand the conventions of English that are valued and rewarded by society. A concern for inclusivity and empowerment requires that all students develop the ability to use these conventions and an understanding of their importance. These conventions include

  • written conventions ranging from handwriting, spelling, punctuation and grammar
  •  through to the more complex conventions of form, genre and register;
  • oral language conventions associated with different purposes, contexts and audiences;
  • conventions associated with the presentation of information, ideas and entertainment in the mass media and new information technologies;
  •  and conventions associated with literary texts of all kinds.

Text Box: Critical literacy  Students also require highly-developed critical literacy skills. Critical literacy depends on  •	an understanding that language is a dynamic social process which responds to and reflects changing social conditions, and  •	that the use of English is inextricably involved with values, beliefs and ways of thinking about ourselves and the world we inhabit.  •	It involves an appreciation of and sensitivity to socio-cultural diversity  •	and an understanding that the meaning of any form of communication depends on context, purpose and audience.  A crucial feature of critical literacy is an awareness of the relationship between language and power.  •	Students need to understand that well-developed language skills provide them with access to sources of power through knowledge;  •	that the control of language and communication confers power on those in control and disempowers others; •	 that language can be used to influence their behaviour and that they can use language to influence the behaviour of others;  •	and that a knowledge of language and how it works can be used to resist control by others.  Critical literacy and functional literacy are interdependent. The development of functional and critical literacy in the English learning area helps students to become competent, reflective, adaptable and critical users of language. It provides them with the skills necessary for the pursuit of knowledge and the achievement of their potential.

Students need to be able to use these conventions to communicate ideas, feelings and attitudes, to interact with others, to cope with increasingly complex communication demands, to explore and develop ideas and values, and to access an increasing range of knowledge and ways of thinking.






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Feel free to access these resources for study purposes or classroom use. However where they have been directly dowloaded for distribution or copied and provided as notes, please acknowledge as a courtesy. John Watson
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