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The evolution of language education within official accounts of Queensland curriculum[1]

Shani M. Doig, Claire M. Wyatt-Smith, J. Joy Cumming and Jill Ryan
Faculty of Education, Griffith University
The important role of language in education has long been recognised, both as a learning medium and as a way of communicating expected learning outcomes. Since 1989, education policy in Queensland has required that statements about language education must be included in all Senior (the final two years of secondary school) syllabus documents. This requirement has entailed a concerted attempt to integrate language and communication in each subject offered in the post-compulsory curriculum. As an introduction to a national study of language and literacy education in the post-compulsory years, a scan of all Senior syllabus documents in Queensland was undertaken. This paper presents the findings of this scan and explores the emerging understandings, at policy level, about the relationship between language and curriculum. It is concluded that inclusion of the Language Education Statement has been useful in directing the attention of different subject areas to language issues with development leading to more embedded and subject specific considerations of literacy.


Patterson (1995) draws a useful distinction between the intended and the enacted (or delivered) curriculum of the classroom. There exists, however, a further official level at which curriculum operates. This is the curriculum approved at the level of government through the relevant statutory bodies. In Queensland, the Board of Senior Secondary School Studies (QBSSSS, known as the Board) is responsible for developing official curriculum for post-compulsory schooling. Syllabus documents are developed by Subject Advisory Committees (SACs) which are comprised of subject specialists appointed by the Board. These documents guide the development of workplans and school-based assessment systems for all students in the upper years of high school. This paper attempts to map the way in which language education has evolved, at the official level of curriculum, by examining the way in which it is constructed in these senior syllabus documents. In turn, this is used to explore the significance with which language issues across the curriculum are perceived. Throughout the paper language and related terms (for example literacy and communication) are defined as they emerge through statements made in the official syllabus documents.

BACKGROUND

Growing community pressure during the mid-1980s led to the decision by the Board to include a Language Education Statement in Queensland syllabus documents. In 1986, a Liberal-National Coalition Government found itself lobbied by community groups who questioned the State's education system on a number of fronts. Broadly speaking, these lobbyists called for the revision of 'liberal' approaches to education, developed during the 1960s and 1970s, and for the return of a back to 'basics' approach. Rising unemployment rates and a perceived drop in the skill level of students led to a call for education to refocus and provide students with 'essential' skills. Of specific concern to lobbyists was a perceived drop in levels of basic literacy. Pressure was brought to bear on the government to mandate the teaching of grammar, spelling and punctuation in and across all years of schooling and all aspects of the curriculum.

The following Language Education Statement was developed by the Board in response to these concerns. In 1986, it was minuted by the Queensland Board of Secondary School Studies[2] that the statement be included in all senior syllabus documents, with the exception of English:

Teachers of Junior/Senior English have a special responsibility for language education. However, it is the responsibility of all teachers to develop and monitor students' abilities to use the forms of language appropriate to their own subject areas. This responsibility entails developing: Assessment in all subjects should take into consideration students' appropriate use of language. (Minutes, Queensland Board of Secondary School Studies, December 1986)
The inclusion of this statement in all senior syllabus documents became official policy in March 1989 and the Board publication, The Development and Approval of Syllabuses for Board Subjects (Dudley, 1992), still mandates that this statement be included as 'The Language Education Statement' in all senior syllabus documents. Subsequently, the expectation has been that in the course of syllabus revisions the Language Education Statement will be modified and developed to reflect subject specific language requirements.

The historical moment at which individual syllabuses have been revised has had a noticeable impact both on how the statement is formulated and on the importance given to language education within the documents as a whole. When categorised historically, the syllabus documents fell into four timeframes. These timeframes are outlined below.

  1. Documents published prior to 1991, that is, in the period immediately following the entry of the Language Education Statement into Board policy. These documents include the statement without alteration or addition. The syllabuses of Theatre, Speech and Drama, Secretarial Studies, Health and Physical Education, and Film and Television fall into this category.

  2. Documents written between 1991 and 1994 fall into three categories of uptake with respect to language education. Syllabuses in the areas of Mathematics and Science fall into the first category. In these syllabuses a discrete Language Education Statement does not appear. Instead there has been an attempt to integrate language education into other aspects of the curriculum. In the second category are those syllabuses which reflect the policy directive that the Language Education Statement be expanded to include subject specific references. Most of these syllabuses contain a modification of the original Language Education Statement incorporating subject specific terminology. The third category of syllabuses is those which have attempted, within the Language Education Statement, to develop a theory of language learning for the subject. All of these categories demonstrate some development of language as a curriculum issue.

  3. Documents published during 1995 show a considerable evolution of the original Language Education Statement. Many of these syllabus documents contain a far more elaborated statement that explores the role of language education with respect to the teaching and learning of the subject in question.

  4. The final category includes those syllabus documents published in 1995/1996 under trial and introduced in pilot schools in the period 1996-1998. Two groups of these syllabuses are of particular interest in this paper. Firstly, those subjects which contain a vocational educational component are of interest as they reflect a growing convergence of vocational and general educational goals in high school. The second group is of interest because they demonstrate the ways in which subject specific language education statements have evolved over the past decade.

This framework provides an opportunity to examine the evolving accounts of language education in Queensland. It enables examination of the interface between curriculum and language concerns, in the understanding that language is vital in successful learning in senior schooling.

LANGUAGE EDUCATION IN CURRICULUM IN EVOLUTION: 1989-1996

Timeframe 1: Prior to 1991

Of the syllabuses published during this period, five have remained in operation until recently. All of these syllabuses have now been revised, with the earlier version gradually being withdrawn from use. However, it is worth examining these syllabuses to see how language education was framed immediately following the official mandate requiring the inclusion of the Language Education Statement in all senior syllabus documents. The five syllabuses are Secretarial Studies, Speech and Drama, Health and Physical Education, Film and Television, and Theatre. Essentially, these syllabus documents demonstrate the earliest uptake of the Language Education Statement in Queensland.

In all these syllabuses, the Language Education Statement minuted by the Board in 1986 appears without alteration or addition, with no attempt being made to relate the Language Education Statement to the wider teaching-learning-assessment contexts of the syllabus. Even in syllabuses such as Speech and Drama, Theatre, Film and Television, and Secretarial Studies, which deal with aspects of communication and language in other parts of the syllabus, there is no explicit connection between these aspects and the Language Education Statement. Similarly, the way in which subject specific language can or should be developed is not discussed within the context of the Language Education Statement. Despite the statement that 'assessment in all subjects needs to take into consideration students' appropriate use of language' (BSSS, 1986) there is also no stated connection between the Language Education Statement and assessment outcomes in any of the five syllabuses. Therefore, while the inclusion of the statement represents a response to a policy directive, such a response can be judged as falling short of embedding language education in the official curriculum.

Timeframe 2: 1991-1994

Sixteen syllabuses were revised between 1991 and 1994. As mentioned earlier, these fall into three categories with respect to their response to language education. In the first category, exemplified by subjects in the areas of Mathematics and Science, there has been an obvious attempt to integrate language education into other aspects of the curriculum. The second category includes subjects which contain much of the original Language Education Statement with different degrees of subject modification. The final category of syllabuses is those which show some attempt to develop the Language Education Statement to include a more theorised account of language and language learning as it pertains to a given subject.

Mathematics A, B and C

The current Mathematics A, B and C syllabuses were all published in 1992.[3] They remain three of only four senior syllabus documents which do not specifically use the term language education, the other syllabus being Agricultural Science. This is not to say, however, that language is not addressed in the mathematics syllabuses. A concern with language is most clearly evident in how the criterion of 'communication' is specified: as an objective; a learning experience; and an assessment criterion. The same statements about communication appear under each of these headings in the three mathematics syllabuses. Communication is the first General Objective listed in the syllabuses and it is discussed in the following manner:

Clear communication is paramount both within the school setting and also in the world for which students are being prepared. The process of developing and building up mathematical knowledge through describing, questioning, arguing, predicting and justifying almost always requires a sharing of ideas. The productive sharing of ideas depends upon the clarity with which one can express oneself. Communication skills are needed in order to understand, access and convey ideas and arguments, including mathematical concepts, presented in both everyday and mathematical language. (QBSSSS, Mathematics A & B Syllabuses, 1992, p. 4; Mathematics C Syllabus, 1992, p. 3)
Specific objectives within Communication focus both on the features of effective communication in general and on language use within Mathematics, including spoken, written and visual. The objectives include students' ability to: While these objectives point to the need for students to use and understand mathematical language in a range of forms or modes, what is omitted are planning and teaching guidelines for achieving the objectives.

For assessment of Communication, the syllabus states:

As the two-way processes of communication are an integral part of everything we do in mathematics, it is difficult, and indeed not desirable, to assess students performance on this criterion independently. Information on student achievement in this criterion should be collected by a global consideration of the Communication skills evident in responding to tasks used to assess student performance in Mathematical Techniques and Mathematical Applications. (QBSSSS, Mathematics A Syllabus, 1992, Mathematics B Syllabus, 1992, pp. 34-35, Mathematics C Syllabus, 1992, p. 43)
Hence the syllabus advises that Communication should be considered within other assessment criteria rather than being assessed separately. While the relationship between the criterion of communication and other assessment foci is not elaborated, there is a clear attempt to embed language education within the assessment section.

Although common statements are made about communication as an objective and an assessment criterion, there is differentiation among the three mathematics syllabuses with regards to communication and learning experiences. For example, in Learning Experiences associated with probability in Mathematics A, it is suggested that students could:

Identify words used in English as expressions for probability (for example, unlikely, certain, impossible, good chance) and place these on a scale from zero to one. (QBSSSS, Mathematics A Syllabus, 1992, p. 24)
What is not discussed in the syllabus is the way in which teachers are to lead students from 'everyday understandings', of the words mentioned above to 'mathematical understandings' of the same words.

Overall, the Mathematics A, B and C syllabuses attempt to provide a complete integration of languag e education within the construction of the subject as a whole. While not using the term language directly, the syllabuses advocate communication as an objective, a learning experience and an assessment outcome. What is not provided in the documents is the way in which these aspects may change across the three subjects of mathematics and the way in which teachers should explicitly instruct students in the communication of the language subject.

Biological Science and Multistrand Science

In the introduction to the discussion of this timeframe, we noted that mathematics and science subjects have implemented language education in similar ways, although the Multi-Strand and Biological Science syllabuses do not integrate language education to the same extent as the Mathematics syllabuses. However, language education is interwoven into the learning experiences of the two subjects. According to the forewords of both Biological and Multi-Strand Science:

Language education is addressed within the context of the overall syllabus rather than as a separate issue. The nature and role of language skills are elaborated within the sections titled General Objectives, Learning Experiences and Assessment, Resources and Assessment. This style of presentation should be seen as encouraging the development of language skills within the context of effective science learning activities. (QBSSSS, Multi-Strand Science Syllabus, 1992, p. i; Biological Science Syllabus, 1992, p. i)
The clearest discussion of language occurs in section six of the documents, titled Learning Experiences, Resources and Language Education. According to this section, language is integral to all the aspects of the required learning experiences of the course. Within the syllabuses, language is understood as involving written, spoken and symbolic forms. The documents continue:
Learning experiences must be based upon a range of sources which is consistent with an emphasis upon the development of scientifically literate adults. (QBSSSS, Multi-Strand Science Syllabus, 1992, p. 17; Biological Science Syllabus, 1992, p. 30)
A table outlining a range of learning experiences involving language skills is included as Table 1. This table shows the syllabus 'take' on learning designed to develop 'scientifically literate adults'. While this goes some way to addressing classroom practice, it is noteworthy that the syllabus does not theorise or define scientific literacy or provide information to teachers about the processes they would use to address it.

Table 1: Types of learning experiences involving language skills for developing 'scientifically literate adults'

Drawing upon sources of information, such as:Using language for the purposes of:Presenting information in forms such as:
observations
demonstrations
experiments
textbooks
handbooks of data
manuals of procedures
product brochures
specification sheets
computer files
journal articles
magazines
newspapers
broadcast media
advertisements
videos or films
lectures
interviews
discussions
...
restating information
reporting results
giving instructions
formulating an hypothesis
designing an experiment
explaining a relationship
arguing a proposition
proposing action
defending a position
justifying a stand
evaluating an argument
developing an idea
interpreting a theory
persuading
...
laboratory/field notes
formal reports
letters
abstracts
precis
reviews
oral presentations
seminars
discussions
demonstrations
charts
graphs
sketches
models
photographs
electronic media
...
(QBSSSS, Multi-Strand Science, 1992, p. 17; Biological Science, 1992, p. 30)

The two syllabuses of Multi-Strand Science and Biological Science, while not having the language integration of Mathematics, but focusing throughout on communication, have attempted in some way to position language education with other curriculum aspects. This level of integration has not been attempted in other syllabus documents published during our second timeframe. While the second category of syllabuses does contain an expansion of the original Language Education Statement, this expansion involves only the inclusion of subject specific references.

Home Economics, Geography, Economics, Dance, Marine Studies and Logic

The Language Education Statements in the syllabuses of Home Economics, Geography, Economics, Dance, Marine Studies and Logic strongly reflect the statement originally mandated by the Board with some subject specific inclusions. For example, the Home Economics syllabus advocates the following:

As the learning of language is a developmental process, teachers of Home Economics should plan for the development of skills necessary for students' successful participation in a design process. This entails developing students' abilities to: Students should be assessed by the use of instruments which are familiar in both format and language. (QBSSSS, Home Economics Syllabus, 1992, p. 7)
Thus, although mirroring the major directions of the original Language Education Statement, the statement contained in the Home Economics syllabus is broadened to include direct references both to the subject of Home Economics and to certain language activities which are specific to the study of the course. There is, for example, the reference made to students' ability to understand conventions associated with patterns and recipes. However, other sections of the Home Economics syllabus do not carry through, or reflect, these language expectations.

Syllabuses for Economics and Geography were both published in January 1992. New syllabuses for each of these subjects are currently being trialed in a limited number of secondary schools in Queensland. However, the syllabuses published in 1992 are still in use in most senior schools. Thus, like many of the syllabuses mentioned earlier, these syllabuses make an interesting case for demonstrating the way in which language education and the Language Education Statement have evolved over the course of time. In both the syllabuses, the Language Education Statements are similar in style to that in the Home Economics syllabus, with the statements reflecting in content and manner the original statement developed by the Board, but with subject specific variations. According to the Geography syllabus:

Geography requires students to communicate in a variety of ways: numerical, spoken, written, cartographic and diagrammatic. Students should be involved in learning experiences which require them to comprehend and transform data in a variety of forms and in doing so, compose appropriate responses to learning activities. (QBSSSS, Geography Syllabus, 1992, p. 15)
There is a recognition within this statement that language may be used and interpreted differently in Geography. Again, however, no specific guidance is provided as to how teachers will assist students in their understanding of these various communicative forms, other than the directive that teachers are to provide 'appropriate' learning experiences. Exemplars of the required learning experiences are not provided. Further on, it is stated that:
The learning of language is a develo pmental process. Teachers of geography should plan for the development of skills necessary for students' successful participation in language through geography in the senior school. (QBSSSS, Geography Syllabus, 1992, p. 15)
There is a sense in this extract that the learning experiences designed by teachers should take into consideration the language development of students - both meeting and extending this development, as appropriate. Following this statement is a list of language related skills which students should develop as a result of studying Geography. This list includes the following:
The import of the original statement is clearly evident. Subject specific modifications have, however, been added. The language statement of the Economics syllabus is essentially a replication of the statement in the Geography syllabus, with the exception of expected changes in terminology. Thus, according to the syllabus, 'economics requires students to use language in a variety of ways: numerical, spoken, written and diagrammatic' (QBSSSS, Economics Syllabus, 1992, p. 7). Understandably the cartography reference has been excluded. Once again, minimal information is provided as to how teachers should assist students in their gaining of understanding with respect to language use. The similarities between the two syllabuses may be traced to the fact that they were published simultaneously, or may be due to their Art/Humanities origins. As we noted earlier, particularly with respect to Maths and Science, different subjects within the same field appear to have taken a similar approach to language education.

The reason for this comparability between similar syllabuses can most probably be explained by the way in which Subject Advisory Committees (SACs) have been organised by the QBSSSS. Rather than each subject having its own committee, in most instances, the Board has clustered subjects of a similar nature together and provided one Committee for each area. The Social Science SAC is therefore responsible for the writing of Economics, Geography, Modern and Ancient History and Study of Society. Likewise, the Mathematics SAC is responsible for the writing of all three Mathematics syllabuses. The composition of the committees could therefore explain the replications and similarities between subjects in similar areas.

The Marine Studies syllabus presents further evidence of the wash-over effects that can occur across syllabuses. For example, the table that appeared originally in the Multi-Strand Science and Biological Science syllabuses (see Table 1) also appears in the Marine Studies syllabus. Apart from the inclusion of this table, the Marine Studies syllabus largely reflects the original Language Education Statement. This is similarly the case with the Dance syllabus which contains much of the original Language Education Statement but with the inclusion of subject specific references. According to the Dance syllabus:

It is the responsibility of teachers of Dance to develop and monitor students' use of the language of the discourse. This is the language used in speaking, writing, reading and thinking about Dance. In addition, teachers should be aware that the listening role of the learner is also important in shaping performance. (QBSSSS, Dance Syllabus, 1993, p. 26)
Thus there is an explicit statement about the role teachers should play in assisting students to develop their knowledge of the language associated with the subject of Dance. Again, what is not provided however, are the methods teachers could use to assist students in this development. With the exception of the Language Education Statement, language issues are not dealt with elsewhere in the document. Consequently there is no stated concern with language in either the teaching, learning or assessment sections of the document.

The Logic syllabus, although containing much replication of the original statement, does develop a more specific sense of language as it relates to the subject. According to the syllabus:

In the study of Logic, facility with the language is a major and basic requirement. If a student is unclear about what is meant then it is impossible to symbolise it, analyse it or assess it. In particular the logician is required to distinguish the formal structure of statements, recognise argument, identify assumptions and implications and calculate degrees of inference. Such requirements as these demand close study of the language of reasoning and much practice to communicate clearly both assertion and argument. (QBSSSS, Logic Syllabus, 1992, p. 12)
The listed skills which students are to develop in the course of studying Logic do not extend beyond those in the original statement greatly. Consequently, there is no indication given as to how teachers should explicitly assist students in their development of the language of reasoning. The Logic syllabus represents an attempt to position language within the subject, beyond the simple inclusion of subject specific terminology. While it does indicate to some extent the nature of language required and developed in the subject, it stops short of showing precisely how this language is to be developed.

Revised at different times between 1991 and 1995 the three syllabuses of Information Processing and Technology (IPT), Drama and Accounting still possess a separate Language Education Statement, although all show an attempt to expand the Language Education Statement to embody some sense of how language is used and developed within the subjects. Each of these subjects is distinguished by its attempt to embed language education firmly within the nature and demands of the subject itself.

Information Processing and Technology

The Information Processing and Technology syllabus outlines four main types of language use appropriate to the subject. These are: natural language, formal natural language, symbolic representation, and other formal notations. These are defined in the syllabus as:

Natural Language which is used for reading, speaking, writing, listening and thinking.
Formal Natural Language which is used to specify problems and problem solutions at a high level using a tightly defined vocabulary and grammar.
Symbolic representations such as conceptual schema, entity relationship diagrams, Nasi-Schneidermann diagrams and various flow diagrams which may be used for problem solving and for visual representation of knowledge.
Other formal notations such as programming languages which are used in implementing problem solutions.
(QBSSSS, Information Processing and Technology Syllabus, 1991, p. 4)
There is an observable progression in these definitions, from the development of so called 'natural' language as it is used in a range of modes, to a more specific discussion of the way in which it is used within the subject area. The discussion of symbolic representations and other formal notations contains a language specific to the subject of Information Processing and Technology which students must have access to and gain knowledge of in order to understand and participate in the subject. According to the syllabus, it is the responsibility of teachers to explicitly instruct students with respect to language usage within the subject through the use of 'appropriate models' (QBSSSS, Information Processing and Technology Syllabus, 1991, p. 4). This syllabus is therefore one of the few developed during this period in which the language education focus has expanded to include guidance to teachers about implementing their role as language educators.

Drama

The Drama syllabus published in 1993 will, from 1997, be the only syllabus to deal with dramatic concepts. Originally, specialised study in drama [5] could be undertaken in one of two subjects: Speech and Drama; and Theatre. A decision was taken by Board in the early 1990s to rationalise these two syllabuses and to produce one Drama syllabus. Consequently, the other two syllabuses, which have been discussed previously, have been phased out of operation. Throughout the Drama syllabus there is a concern with developing skills associated with communication. The Language Education Statement, as contained in the syllabus, works from the premise that Drama is a subject about language:

Since drama is fundamentally concerned with language in action, the drama teacher has particular responsibilities:
The language manifested through the study of Drama is later described as the 'specialised vocabulary of the discourse' (QBSSSS, Drama Syllabus, 1993, p. 8). The syllabus goes on to list the spoken, gestural/non verbal and written genres which are to be developed during the course of studying the subject of Drama. This list is quite extensive and includes both subject specific and commonly used language genres. According to the syllabus the Drama teacher is responsible for developing students' abilities in both oracy and literacy. Within the syllabus oracy is defined as incorporating listening and speaking, while literacy is defined as being written language. While lists of the types of development in oracy and literacy which should result from the study of drama are provided in the document, guidelines to assist teachers are not provided, even to the extent of IPT. Hence, this syllabus demonstrates some evolution of the Language Education Statement but a total integration of the language education focus throughout the subject is not yet fully realised.

Accounting

The Accounting syllabus, however, does show further development in this direction. It contains a detailed Language Education Statement which incorporates appreciation of the specific language of accounting and the need for a sharpened curricular view of language to be considered. According to the document:

It is recognised that while accounting is a specific language in itself used to communicate financial and other information to people, organisations, and government, there are also inherent language demands in the teaching, learning and assessment of the subject for which teachers of Accounting are responsible. (QBSSSS, Accounting Syllabus, 1992, p. 4)
The syllabus suggests that students need to develop knowledge in comprehending and composing and the various skills involved with each are listed. These lists incorporate both subject specific and general skills. The Accounting syllabus is again one of the few which provides teachers with a series of strategies, under the heading of Language Education, which may be employed to assist with the development of these language skills. To teach each topic the following strategies are suggested.
(a) Selection and sequencing of genres to be covered should be modelled, showing correct structures and requirements appropriate to the context/purpose/audience.
(b) Technical terms and definitions should be taught in context and concepts placed in students' own language initially and then students should be taught the appropriate terms to express ideas in accounting language.
(c) Spelling, punctuation, grammar and layout should be taught, and correct usage expected. Students should be taught how to write paragraphs, extended responses and reports. (QBSSSS, Accounting Syllabus, 1992, pp. 4-5)
Accordingly, teachers of Accounting are expected to model genres, define terms and definitions and teach syntax and writing structure. While these strategies are outlined, the matter of how teachers should put these strategies into practice is not discussed. This means that how the modelling of genres is best achieved remains unstated. What is included, however, is a table of the ways in which students should develop the skills associated with written language through the sequencing of appropriate genres. This table shows a move from more basic tasks such as definitions and short explanations in the first semester of Year 11, through to higher order written tasks such as extended explanations and descriptions and information reports which should be completed in the two semesters of certification in Year 12. Nominally, a course of study in the senior school occurs over four semesters. In most cases the first two semesters of the course are counted for formative assessment purposes while the last two semesters are assessed for summative or certification purposes. What is not included in the table provided in the Accounting syllabus is how teachers are to manage the transition between the activities to be undertaken during the formative period of the course and those to be assessed summatively and used for certification or grading purposes on course completion. Consequently, while this syllabus does set out a series of strategies which can be used by teachers to assist with the development of language, there is still little given with respect to how these strategies should actually be put into practice.

Summary

As the previous discussion has demonstrated, the sixteen syllabuses revised between 1991 and 1995 contain various accounts of language education. They have been placed into three groups: those that have attempted to integrate language education throughout the entire syllabus; those that have attempted to provide a Language Education Statement which contains subject specific references; and those which have attempted to provide a more detailed account of the role of language within the subject. These categories are broad categories and, as has been shown, there are variations within them. However, what is obvious across the categories and across all the syllabuses however is that, to a greater or lesser extent, there has been some evolution of the original Language Education Statement. Rather than simply being a generic import into the document, there has been an attempt either to make language education permeate all aspects of the curriculum or to reframe the Language Education Statement in subject specific ways.

Timeframe 3: 1995

In this timeframe there were seventeen syllabus documents, published in a revised form for the first time in 1995. These syllabus documents show quite strongly the continuing evolution of language education in the senior secondary curriculum, with no syllabus containing mere replication of the 1989 statement. There are, within this period, noticeable similarities between subjects in particular disciplines. In all documents there has been some attempt to show, if not how language development should be approached with respect to the subject specifically, then at least how it should be approached according to the discipline of the subject.

Physics and Chemistry

The Physics and Chemistry syllabuses, both revised during 1995, contain exactly the same statements regarding language education. These statements are similar in nature and form to those contained in the Multi-Strand and Biological Science syllabuses published during the previous period. These similarities are not unintended, as it is stated that in redrafting the syllabuses of senior science, every attempt was made to increase consistency between these syllabuses and ultimately between the approaches to language education in the subjects themselves.

The syllabuses of Physics and Chemistry adopt an integrated approach to the development of languag e skills. The preface of each document contains the following statement:

Language Education is considered within the context of the overall syllabus rather than as a separate issue. The nature and role of language skills are elaborated within the sections entitled general objectives, learning experiences, resources and assessment. This style of presentation should be seen as encouraging the development of competence and confidence in the use of language skills within the context of effective science learning. (QBSSSS, Chemistry and Physics Syllabuses, 1995, p. v)
The role of language within the curriculum of science in general is discussed in both syllabuses under the heading of Learning Experiences. According to the documents 'science uses a rich spectrum of metaphors and similes to describe and communicate models that seek to explain natural phenomena' (QBSSSS, Chemistry Syllabus, 1995, p. 8; Physics Syllabus, 1995, p. 9). Both syllabuses indicate that the language of science needs to be taught explicitly and students need to be assisted in order to develop confidence in using this language. According to the syllabus, consideration must be made for the different 'language characteristics' and 'learning styles' of students while they are developing their understanding of Physics and Chemistry, both as subjects and as languages. In addition:
[D]uring the process of second language/dialect learning, some students may approximate standard forms of English. These approximations need to be considered as acceptable forms of language. Teachers need to make judgements about the appropriateness of, and necessity for, the use of particular varieties of English, according to the intended outcome of the learning experience. (QBSSSS, Chemistry Syllabus, 1995, p. 8; Physics Syllabus, 1995, p. 9)
This statement may be understood from two perspectives. In the first instance, the high proportion of students coming from language backgrounds other than English who choose to study science in the post-compulsory years has been the subject of some Australian research (McRobbie & Tobin, 1996). Thus, the statement may be taken to acknowledge the language difficulties which such students may face and to accept the need to support these students in their attempts to master Standard English as well as the English language they are required to use in subject specific ways. The statement may also be taken to refer to those students, regardless of language background, who find difficulty in mastering the 'language of Physics/Chemistry' and to suggest that these students be assisted in the preliminary stages of the course when the language is being introduced. The final part of the statement indicates that such support and leniency should be shown only during formative assessment, or assessment that is essentially diagnostic in nature, having an improvement focus (McMeniman, 1986).
As a consequence of these considerations, such students should gain increased proficiency in expressing [physics/chemistry] concepts and knowledge. These students should then be able to demonstrate more fully their achievement on common summative assessment. (QBSSSS, Chemistry Syllabus, 1995, p. 8; Physics Syllabus, 1995, p. 9)
This statement makes clear that students experiencing language difficulties with the subjects of Physics or Chemistry, will not be shown special consideration at the time of summative assessment. However, it is intended that the assistance they have been given during the formative part of the course will enable them to overcome these difficulties. This is the only mention made of language with respect to the assessment in these subjects.

The 1995 Physics and Chemistry syllabuses exemplify further attempts to incorporate the teaching of language into other sections of the subject with language education incorporated into the Learning Experiences section of the syllabus documents. However, there is no evidence that language education has been integrated into other aspects of the syllabuses, with no statements relating to language education appearing in either the objectives or the assessment sections of the documents.

Language Studies

Eight language studies syllabuses were published for the first time in revised form in 1995: Latin, Indonesian, Malaysian, Italian, French, Chinese, German and Japanese. Apart from Russian and Spanish which are currently being trialed and extension syllabuses in German and French which are also in trial, these eight documents represent all of the current syllabuses for languages other than English. All of the 1995 syllabus documents contain the same Language Education Statement. In all cases, this is titled English Language Education, rather than the Language Education Statement. According to the preface of this statement:

Teachers of languages other than English play a major role in the general language development of their students. In learning a second language, students gain an understanding of the nature of language through comparison of the systems of English and the second language. Attention is given to communication skills, different forms, styles and purposes of language, the appropriateness of the language used, its structure and correct use. (QBSSSS, Japanese Syllabus, 1995, p. 7)
The argument is that in learning a language other than English, students learn about the English language by identifying the similarities and differences between English and the language of study. Concomitantly, in studying another language, students learn about language usage generally, and the skills which they develop as a result can be applied to English. Learning experiences which will enable students to improve their capabilities in English are then listed including:
Within these elements there is a sense that students should be able to 'play' with language in such a way that they are able to transfer skills and knowledge developed in the English language to areas being developed as they learn another language and vice versa.

The English Language Education Statement which is featured in all syllabuses relating to the teaching of languages other than English reflects an attempt to show how the learning of these languages may assist with the development of English language skills. In essence, they aim to show the reciprocal relationship between the study of various languages and how skills developed in the learning of one language may be utilised in making meaning of another language. Interestingly, the focus of language development is seen as related to the subject matter rather than the role of the teacher as in other syllabuses.

Modern History and Ancient History

The Language Education Statements of the Modern and Ancient History syllabuses are strikingly similar [6], with both containing an extensive section on communication. Both syllabuses regard as important students' ability to present the results of their learning experiences using both written and non-written communication. The skills associated with written communication include:

Those skills associated with non-written language communication include:
Thus students are expected to communicate information in a variety of ways during the course of their study. The skills of both written and non-written communication are listed in the assessment section of the document as the fourth assessment criteria. The following statement is made regarding the assessment of communication:
Note: Assessment of criterion 4, communication, must include the written dimension plus a minimum of one task from the non-written dimension. (emphasis in original) (QBSSSS, Modern History Syllabus, 1995, p. 65; Ancient History Syllabus, 1995, p. 28)
Slight differences occur in the Language Education Statements included as Section 4 of the Modern and Ancient History syllabuses. Nonetheless, both statements would appear to have been written according to a similar model with small subject variations. According to the introduction of both statements:
Language is not only the means of communication but also a vehicle that conveys the attitudes, values, assumptions and prejudices of the people who use it and the times in which they live. Language education in (Modern/Ancient) History is concerned therefore not only with equipping students with the skills to communicate effectively in suitable genres but also with helping them to develop a critical awareness of language. (QBSSSS, Modern History Syllabus, 1995, p. 8; Ancient History Syllabus, 1995, p. 8)
The role of both history subjects appears to be the development of students' understanding of the role of language in transmitting ideas and attitudes both now and in the past. The statement does not suggest that language is responsible for shaping or forming these attitudes, but it is treated as the medium through which they travel.

Both history syllabuses suggest that students 'understand and use language in a variety of ways; spoken, written, visual, diagrammatic and mathematical' (QBSSSS, Modern History Syllabus, 1995, p. 8; Ancient History Syllabus, 1995, p. 8). The settings where these instances of language may be uncovered differ in the syllabuses, with Ancient History mentioning artefacts including architecture and jewellery as possible sources while Modern History discusses such things as books, journals and laws. According to the Modern History syllabus:

Each language setting has its own conventions and its own vocabulary to which students need to be sensitised. Language can also be used to establish power relationships. Students should therefore be involved in learning experiences that require them to comprehend and analyse these genres as well as compose appropriate responses of their own. (QBSSSS, Modern History Syllabus, 1995, p. 8)
The statement suggests that students need to be made aware that language is not power-neutral and that care needs to be taken how language is used. This cautionary statement is not replicated in the Ancient History syllabus.

According to the syllabuses, teachers of Modern and Ancient history are responsible for teaching the skills necessary for effective communication. Lists of what is involved with this responsibility are provided for both subjects. With one exception, these lists are identical for both subjects and include students understanding what they read and hear, use of appropriate and effective language when speaking and writing, and use of historical terms accurately. Modern History includes a skill not mentioned in the Ancient History syllabus: 'the ability to criticise the way language is used to exercise power' (QBSSSS, Modern History Syllabus, 1995, p. 8). There is an interesting implication here that the use of language for the exercise of power requires negative criticism.

The Modern and Ancient History syllabuses have both a communication objective, which follows through to an assessment outcome, and a Language Education Statement. These areas are similarly constructed within the two documents. In neither document are these areas linked, that is, no noticeable relationship exists between the Language Education Statements and the Communication Objectives. However, these 1995 syllabuses do have a much more embedded focus regarding language and language education than most of the syllabuses from the previous timeframe.

Study of Society and Study of Religion

The syllabuses of Study of Society and Study of Religion, which contain both Communication Objectives and Language Education Statements, also have a more embedded focus. With respect to their Communication Objectives, the syllabuses resemble those of the history syllabuses discussing these objectives in relation to the development of written and non-written skills. The Language Education Statements also have many points of similarity. In slightly different ways both syllabuses state that:

Language is a social and cultural construct and as such plays an important role in both shaping and reflecting perceived social and cultural realities. While language allows humans to communicate, it is also a vehicle that embodies the values, assumptions and prejudices of the community it serves. Consequently, language can reflect the dominant culture in ways that exclude, ignore or censor the experiences of significant groups within society. Conversely, it can also become an instrument for confronting and challenging such exclusion and for promoting the acceptance and appreciation of diversity. (QBSSSS, Study of Religion Syllabus, 1995, p. 7; Study of Society Syllabus, 1995, p. 8)
The syllabuses therefore construct language as having a social function which can create either positive or negative effects depending on the way in which it is developed and used. This construction of language demonstrates the evolving nature of the Language Education Statement in curriculum documents. Further statements in the syllabuses encourage teachers to be aware of the various functions of language and suggest that they take 'positive steps to extend the inclusiveness of language in terms of gender, class, race, culture, ethnicity, age, religion and disability' (QBSSSS, Study of Religion Syllabus, 1995, p. 7; Study of Society Syllabus, 1995, p. 8). Thus, language is a vehicle through which educational equity can be obtained. However, the syllabuses do not suggest how teachers should create these positive language experiences within their classroom.

Teachers are informed in both syllabuses that language is a developmental process and that they should 'plan for the development of skills necessary for students' successful participation in language' (QBSSSS, Study of Religion Syllabus, 1995, p. 7). The skills which students should have upon completion of the respective courses include generic skills such as the appropriate and effective use of language, the ability to understand what they read and hear and the use of appropriate grammar, spelling and punctuation - a return to the original Language Education Statement. The syllabus again does not advise teachers on how to help students achieve these skills.

A statement unique to the Study of Religion syllabus, relates to the way in which assessment and language are to be viewed. The following statement is made at the conclusion of the Language Education Statement:

The developmental process should also be reflected in the two-year assessment program so that students are assessed for exit by techniques that are familiar in both format and language. (emphasis in original) (QBSSSS, Study of Religion Syllabus, 1995, p. 7)
Thus, the language skills to be developed in the subject are to be made explicit for students and assessed in a formative capacity initially, so that they are familiar with them by the time of summative assessment.

Music

Music offers a contrast to the previous subject areas by disc ussing language on two different levels. In the first instance there is the language created by music and in the second, the language through which music comes to be understood and discussed. According to the syllabus rationale:

Music offers its own unique symbol, system or language ... As an essential form of expression and communication, music provides opportunities for aesthetic experiences. Music has the capacity to cross national borders and assists people of different cultures to understand each other. (QBSSSS, Music Syllabus, 1995, p. 1)
According to the syllabus, the subject aims to assist students to develop a knowledge and understanding of what is described as 'the literature of music' by developing skills of listening, composing and performing. These three integrated skills are seen as complementary to the skills of reading, writing and speaking which are considered necessary in order to develop an understanding of English literature.

The opportunities given within the subject to use music as a means of communication and to learn a language in order to communicate about music are contained within the global aims of the syllabus. According to these aims:

A course of study developed from this syllabus, encourages students to:
These aims are developed further in the core units, where communication is a consistent aim throughout. The stated communication skills to be developed in each of these units are the same.
Students should be able to:
While the aims are consistent throughout the units, the way in which they are developed in each of the units is different. There are three macro course objectives for music: listening; composing; and performing. How these objectives will be met in each of the units is outlined in detail. In most units the communication skills are developed through the listening and composing objectives, appearing under the sub-headings of stylistic application and interpretation.

The term 'literacy' is also used commonly in the unit outlines, although not in a manner typically associated with the term. According to a standard dictionary definition literate is the 'ability to read and write', while literacy is the 'condition of being literate'. Within the senior Music syllabus the term literacy does not to refer to proficiency in these skills, but to others associated with the performance of music. For example, in the unit on Vocal Music, under the objective of performing and the heading of literacy, the following statement is made:

Students should be able to demonstrate the ability to:
This positioning of literacy in a music sense may have its origin in the metaphor of literacy as fluency. If listening and composing are taken to be similar skills in music, then to be musically literate a person must be able to perform; to publicly demonstrate their capacity in both of the other skills.

The language skills considered necessary for successful participation in music are outlined in Section 4 of the syllabus, the Language Education Statement. The statement appearing in the music syllabus is an involved attempt to discuss the varieties of language skills which can and should be developed throughout the course of Senior Music. It also makes explicit demands on teachers regarding their role in assisting students to develop their language capabilities.

Teachers and students in their writing, reading, questioning, listening and talking about music should use the language of the discourse ... Students should be involved in learning experiences that require them to comprehend and transform ... The use of various written and oral genres should be developed by modelling the language functions and forms for comprehending and composing that students will require during the course of study. Students gain confidence as they acquire these skills and learn to operate with a high degree of automaticity and control within the discipline. (QBSSSS, Music Syllabus, 1995, p. 5)
The role of teachers, then, is to assist students to develop from novice to knowledgeable users of the language of music during their course of study, such that they are able to communicate through and about music with less assistance from teachers.

The Language Education Statement acknowledges two forms of language through which it is considered acceptable to communicate in the subject. These are 'spoken Australian English' and 'written standard English'. Neither of these phrases is defined in the document and nor are the various differences and discrepancies which may exist between the two discussed in any way. What is stated, however, is that it is the responsibility of teachers of music 'to prepare students to cope with the inherent language demands of the subject' (QBSSSS, Music Syllabus, 1995 p. 5). Relating to this, the syllabus lists skills to which students need to be exposed if they are to develop effective speaking, listening, reading and writing within the subject. The Language Education Statement also provides a detailed table outlining how these skills may be presented to students.

Although no specific reference is made to the assessment of general communication skills in the table 'Minimum Standards Associated with Exit Criteria', students are required to demonstrate their ability to read and notate music. Thus, the specific language skills of the subject are directly assessed.

In summary, the Music syllabus demonstrates a considerable expansion of the original Language Education Statement, one which is far more subject specific than earlier syllabus documents. The concepts of language, language education and development, communication and literacy are embedded throughout the syllabus. The syllabus is also the first to demonstrate so clearly the way in which terminology, such as literacy, may be used in different ways according to the subject area being discussed. In the Music syllabus one definition of literacy is comprehensively explained and expected as a learning outcome.

Graphics, Legal Studies and Art

Other syllabuses published during this period include the syllabuses for Graphics, Legal Studies and Art. These syllabuses all discuss Language Education in different ways. Nonetheless they reflect what would seem to be a unifying attempt to provide a Language Education Statement which incorporates a greater understanding of the specific nature of language within a subject or subject area and also embeds a concern with language throughout the teaching, learning and assessment aspects of the syllabus. In this timeframe we also see the emergence of clear subject specific appropriations of literacy, for example musical literacy, and the constructions of literacy that incorporate critical literacy theory and the role of language in society. What is not obvious in these syllabus, however, is the provision of clear guidelines for teachers to assist them with the business of teaching language within their subject areas. Essentially, what remains unstated are the pedagogies necessary for developing functional or critical language skills and the nature and function of language in the business of assessing student performance .

Timeframe 4: Trial/Pilot Syllabuses 1996/1997

According to the publication The Development and Approval of Syllabuses for Board Subjects (Dudley, 1992):
If the Board accepts a proposed major revision of an existing syllabus as being potentially viable, it advertises the syllabus for combined trialing/piloting. From 15 to 25 schools inclusive are needed to implement the syllabus in a trial/pilot. (p. 3)
In 1996 a number of syllabus documents were released which were either new syllabuses not previously taught in Queensland schools or which contained enough substantial revisions to warrant trialing. Many of the new syllabuses have been written in an attempt to rationalise and make uniform the teaching and learning of subjects with vocational education components. Previously in Queensland, if schools wanted to teach subjects which had a heavy vocational emphasis it was necessary for the schools to become attached to a registered provider, such as a college of Technical and Further Education (TAFE), in order to allow students to gain certification in courses accredited by the Vocational Education Teaching and Employment Commission (VETEC). Students participating in these TAFE courses were not generally entitled to dual accreditation by the Board, and thus the subjects, while reported on certification, did not contribute to assessment data used to determine eligibility for university entry.

Recent political pressure (Dawkins 1990; Keating, 1994) regarding the importance of vocational education and training, combined with a perceived need to make the processes associated with these courses more uniform, led to the drafting of six syllabuses which allow for dual accreditation with the Board of Senior Secondary School Studies and with VETEC. These syllabuses are currently in the third year of trialing throughout Queensland. The subjects currently involved with this dual accreditation are: Business Communication and Technologies, Technology Studies, Engineering Technology, Hospitality Studies, Agricultural Science and Business Organisation and Management. Two of these syllabuses are a redrafting of previous syllabus documents: Agricultural Science is a revised version of the 1991 document previously discussed; and the Business Communication and Technologies syllabus is intended to replace Secretarial Studies when it moves into general implementation. These two revised syllabuses are discussed in this paper to show how the Language Education Statement and the role of language in general have emerged in these syllabuses.

Business Communication and Technologies

According to the Business Communication and Technologies syllabus, communication is one of the key components of a subject which aims to equip students with 'the ability to communicate effectively and interact confidently through and within an office environment' (QBSSSS, Business Communication and Technologies Syllabus, 1995, p. 1). While this statement seems to relate the communication skills to be developed specifically for the world of work, other statements about communication are not focused entirely in this direction. However, the syllabus is one which is primarily concerned with developing work-related skills and as such this is the focus of much of the document.

Three of the ten global aims of the syllabus relate to communication. These are:

The syllabus indicates through these aims the intention of the course to develop a range of communication skills which should not only be of use in the work arena but also in other aspects of life. As a result, communication outcomes are reflected in the general objectives of the course and communication is an assessable outcome.

The Language Education Statement is extensive and subject specific. Much of the statement focuses on the fact that, as the subject is about communication, the required skills need to be explicitly taught and effectively demonstrated by teachers of the subject. The document provides a number of 'specific language strategies' to be incorporated in the teaching of the subject:

It is essential that students are able to access, process and present information and appreciate the interrelatedness of these skills. This includes the ability to use reasoning processes such as application, analysis, interpretation, synthesis and evaluation of information to produce a range of outcomes. (QBSSSS, Business Communication and Technologies Syllabus, 1995, p. 7)
The syllabus lists activities that could be utilised to assist students in the development of these skills. Also provided are recommended teaching strategies to assist with the development of students language skills. There is some reflection of the Board Language Education Statement of 1986 apparent in the strategies mentioned. These include:
The syllabus also makes it clear that assessment 'must take into consideration students' appropriate use of language' (QBSSSS, Business Communication and Technologies Syllabus, 1995, p. 9).

The concern in the trial/pilot syllabus for Business Communication and Technologies Studies regarding the development of adequate communication skills is reflected in the heavy emphasis given to these skills within the document and the detail in its requirements for both teachers and students. In comparison to the original Secretarial Studies Syllabus, this new syllabus shows revision at every level. The Communication Objectives contained in the 1987 syllabus have been significantly redrafted and now incorporate different skills. Similarly the Language Education Statement contained in the document is a considerable expansion on the statement in the 1987 document. Rather than being the generic statement previously mentioned, the statement in the current syllabus strongly embeds language and language education within the teaching and learning of the subject. The development of language may be subject specific while maintaining a functional language framework, however, the centring of the whole subject on communication is apparent.

Agricultural Science

The 1992 Agricultural Science syllabus had already incorporated the study of language throughout the objectives, learning experiences and assessment outcomes of the syllabus under the banner of communication. No changes have been made between the 1992 syllabus and the 1996 syllabus with respect to the development of communication skills. What has changed however, is the inclusion in the recent syllabus of a separate Language Education Statement, previously omitted. This Language Education Statement resembles both the original Language Education Statement and those contained in other science syllabuses. The introduction to the statement indicates that:

[A]ll teachers have a responsibility for language education. In Agricultural Science, teachers should address language education within the context of the overall syllabus rather than as a separate item. (QBSSSS, Agricultural Science Syllabus, 1995, p. 7)
Language education is therefore to be contextualised within the teaching and learning of the subject rather than as something separate or distinct. This attempt to integrate language education across the syllabus would have seemed to be the intention of the 1992 syllabus, which could lead to the suggestion that the attempted integration of lang uage education into other aspects of the syllabus did not go far enough in terms of providing students with adequate language education.

The new syllabus suggests a number of ways in which language should be used by students in the study of the subject so that their language skills are improved. This list includes such things as:

Following this is a table which is similar, although not identical, to the ones contained in other science syllabuses. This is the only similarity with respect to language education between the syllabus for Agricultural Science and that of other sciences.

Health Education, Physical Education and Economics

The revised syllabuses of Health Education, Physical Education (formerly Health and Physical Education) and the Economics syllabus all show considerable expansion with respect to statements about language education. Each subject syllabus states comprehensively the way in which language is to be used within the subject and the types of language skills that should be developed as a result, although still, little is provided to teachers regarding how they should develop language skills within the subject. According to the Physical Education syllabus:

The use of written and oral genres should be developed by modelling the language functions and forms for comprehending and composing that students will require during the course of study. (QBSSSS, Physical Education Pilot Senior Syllabus, 1995, p. 7)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

A syllabus of special interest is the newly developed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies syllabus. The syllabus contains a Communication Objective and a lengthy Language Education Statement but there is no connection made within the document between the two. According to the introduction to the Language Education Statement:

An examination of the power of language permeates this syllabus. Language is a social and cultural construct and a crucial element in the construction of identity; as such it plays an important role in both shaping and reflecting perceived social and cultural realities. (QBSSSS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Syllabus, 1995, p. 7)
Language then is viewed as more than the medium through which ideas and values are expressed, but also as a part in shaping and developing those ideas and values, the perspective reflected in the Modern History syllabus. Thus, language is integral to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies syllabus in its attempt to challenge some of the social and cultural practices which lead to stereotyping and exclusion. Teachers are made aware that they must acknowledge their own language and its power within the classroom and to 'extend the inclusiveness of language in terms of sex, class, ethnicity, age, religion and disability' (QBSSSS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Syllabus, 1995, p. 7). Teachers are also asked to acknowledge the first language of indigenous students and to allow the use of Torres Strait Islander Creole and Aboriginal English in the classroom. The syllabus further states:
The participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait students in the course may be further enhanced through the provision of education resources that acknowledge through language and format that some students are learners of English as a second language. Given that the learning of language is a developmental process, it is the responsibility of teachers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies to plan for the progressive development of spoken Australian English and written standard English language skills over the two year course of study. (QBSSSS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Syllabus, 1995, p. 7)
The teachers are not only responsible for assisting all their students in the development of their language, they are also particularly responsible for assisting those students who speak an indigenous language as a first language to become competent users of the English language. The syllabus contains no further assistance either on how to provide educational resources which are suitable for students from these backgrounds, or on how to structure the course to allow for their future development in the English language. The syllabus also does not indicate that the Creole and Aboriginal languages could be used either as terminologies to be studied or as ways to consider similarities and differences between languages, as in the syllabuses for languages other than English.

The syllabus reinforces how students may come to develop a more critical approach to language and its use in the following way:

As language can be used to serve difference purposes, the content of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies provides ideal opportunities for students to develop their ability to detect and use different modes of language such as informative, persuasive, manipulative, argumentative, emotive and biased. (QBSSSS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Syllabus, 1996, p. 7)
Thus, in this syllabus, language is seen as more than the skills associated with reading, writing and oracy. It is instead a critical process which can be used for a number of different purposes and which is capable of evoking a number of different responses.

Summary

In total the documents released in 1995 for trialing in 1996 and 1997 show a considerable evolution with respect to their Language Education Statements. In most of these documents language is expanded far beyond the need to consider only spelling and grammar, a focus of the original Language Education Statement, and is considered from the philosophical position which it occupies within the subject. In most of the Language Education Statements there is discussion both of the role of language within the subject and of the abilities that will be developed in students as a result of studying the subject.

CONCLUSIONS

The importance of language in learning and the different roles language plays in different subject areas have been recognised for some time. Queensland has been fortunate that a mandated statement regarding Language Education has been required in all syllabuses since 1989. A mandated statement by itself, of course, does not lead to change. However, in this paper we have been able to show that this policy initiative has formed the basis for considerable evolution in the integration of language across curriculum. This paper has tracked official developments with respect to language education as demonstrated in senior syllabus documents in the state of Queensland. While the analysis has been undertaken in a specific educational context, our findings are applicable to curriculum development everywhere as language and literacy education across the curriculum gains even more importance. The focus of much of our paper has been on the evolution of the Language Education Statement over the last decade, as well as the treatment of language. When originally mandated in 1989, the Language Education Statement was little more than an official addition to syllabus documents. The statement at this early stage of its history was generic and contained no subject specific variations. The passage of the last decade has shown a considerable evolution with respect to this statement. Although similarities between subjects do exist, the Language Education Statement has evolved and is now unique to subjects or subject areas. In most cases developments have occurred in the theorising of the nature and the function of language as it relates to the specific subject. The depth of this theorising varies greatly between subjects.

The continuing refinement of Language Education Statements in Queensland syllabus documents illustrates that language and literacy education across the curriculum is positioned as being of importance within official curriculum accounts. Similarly, the attempts made to integrate language education across the whole curriculum show a willingness to accept that language permeates every aspect of teaching and learning within a subject and cannot therefore be relegated to an 'add on' position.

The future direction to be taken by the Language Education Statement is yet to be seen. There exist, however, certain potential areas for growth. Firstly, the work towards integrating language education within all aspects of syllabuses needs to be furthered for all subjects. While some attempts have been made towards such integration, it is by no means uniform. Our analysis shows that in many cases the Language Education Statements still remain detached from other aspects of the curriculum and thus still have the flavour of an 'addition' rather than a vital part of all aspects of teaching and learning. Secondly, the theorising of language, communication or literacy can still be developed in many cases. Our analysis has shown that a small number of syllabuses have a breadth of definition or theoretical framework that incorporates functional as well as critical language aspects. Finally, we feel there is a need for syllabuses to provide teachers with explicit instructions as to how to teach language effectively within the classroom and within the contexts of their subjects.

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Dawkins, J. (1990). The Impact of Commonwealth Initiatives on School Education. MacArthur Lecture Series. University of Western Sydney. 29 August.

Dudley, B. (1992). The Development and Approval of Senior Syllabuses for Board Subjects. Brisbane. Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

Keating, P. (1994). Working Nation. Canberra. AGPS.

McMeniman, M. (1986). Formative and Summative Assessment - A Complimentary Approach. Assessment Unit Discussion Paper 6. Brisbane. Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

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QBSSSS. (1995). Chemistry Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

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QBSSSS. (1995). Japanese Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

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QBSSSS. (1995). Physical Education Senior Syllabus. (Pilot). Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1995). Physics Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

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QBSSSS. (1995). Study of Society Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1994). Marine Studies Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1993). Dance Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1993). Drama Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1992). Accounting Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1992). Agricultural Science Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1992). Biological Science Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1992). Economics Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1992). Geography Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1992). Home Economics Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1992). Logic Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1992). Mathematics A Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1992). Mathematics B Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

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QBSSSS. (1992). Multi-Strand Science Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1991). Information Processing and Technology Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1991). Technology Studies Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1987). Film and Television Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1987). Health and Physical Education Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1987). Secretarial Studies Senior Syllabus. Brisbane: Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1987). Speech and Drama Senior Syllabus. Brisbane. Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

QBSSSS. (1987). Theatre Senior Syllabus. Brisbane. Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies.

ENDNOTES

  1. This research was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs through the Children's Literacy National Projects Programme.
  2. The Queensland Board of Secondary School Studies was renamed in 1988. The Queensland School Curriculum Council is now responsible for drafting junior (up to Year 10) syllabus documents.
  3. These subjects differ in conceptual demand and mathematical content.
  4. All quotes from syllabus documents reflect the exact wording and punctuation provided, unless otherwise noted.
  5. The study of drama is also a component of Senior English courses but not the central feature.
  6. Once again this can be explained by the fact that the Social Science Subject Advisory Committee was responsible for drafting both syllabus documents.
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Author details: Shani Doig is a doctoral student in the School of Cognition, Language and Special Education at Griffith University. Her research interests include English curriculum in senior schooling and the nature of formative assessment in the improvement of student learning.
Address: Faculty of Education, Griffith University, Brisbane Australia 4111
Email: s.doig@mailbox.gu.edu.au

Claire Wyatt-Smith is Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education and co-director of the Centre for Literacy Education Research at Griffith University. Her research interests include literacy demands of curriculum and evaluative frameworks for judging literacy achievement.
Address: Faculty of Education, Griffith University, Brisbane Australia 4111
Email: c.wyatt-smith@mailbox.gu.edu.au

Joy Cumming is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education and Head of School, Cognition, Language and Special Education. Her research interests include literacy and numeracy demands of curriculum, cognitive processing, and measurement of student achievement.
Address: Faculty of Education, Griffith University, Brisbane Australia 4111
Email: j.cumming@mailbox.gu.edu.au

Jill Ryan is a post-graduate student in the School of Cognition, Language and Special Education at Griffith University. Her teaching and research interests are in literacy and mathematics in secondary education.
Address: Faculty of Education, Griffith University, Brisbane Australia 4111
Email: j.ryan@mailbox.gu.edu.au

Please cite as: Doig, S. M., Wyatt-Smith, C. M., Cumming, J. J. and Ryan, J. (1998). The evolution of language education within official accounts of Queensland curriculum. Queensland Journal of Educational Research, 14(1), 4-44. http://education.curtin.edu.au/iier/qjer/qjer14/doig.html


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Created 18 Mar 2005. Last revision: 18 Mar 2005.
URL: http://education.curtin.edu.au/iier/qjer/qjer14/doig.html