Language and Literacy
Our role is to develop our student’s ability to use language in rich and complex ways to meet a range of social purposes in their homes, school and community. Students learn to use language accurately and fluently and learn about how our language works in context to create different kinds of meanings. There has been a big push – reflected in Australian curriculum framework documents- for a functional grammar approach to language and literacy learning. This approach, which draws heavily from the work of Professor Michael Halliday, has a focus on function over form. It is built on a series of assumptions about language, in particular language is complex and dynamic and a product of the culture in which it has evolved. It is therefore never neutral or value free, but expresses the beliefs, attitudes and practices of the culture in which and by which the text is constructed.
As students move through school they need to express their understanding of the world – whether that be the physical, biological, historical or literary world – in more complex ways, moving from the familiar, everyday understandings to the more abstract and generalised. Students need to not only know how to reflect and express their ideas about the world but also see the relationships between ideas and the language resources available to them for making those connections.
Students need to become aware of the way we use language to develop roles and maintain relationships. Throughout their lives students will be required to take on many roles and develop skills for effective group interaction. This interpersonal dimension of language (verbal and non-verbal) requires more subtle usage and understanding of language for interacting. Students need to know how as readers and listeners language is being used to manipulate and position them and how as writers and speakers to expresses opinions to persuade others to accept their particular point of view.
Students will need to know how to create and comprehend a range of text types. They will be required to move from more face to face modes of communication in which the meanings are supported by the immediate context to written modes in which language is more crafted and planned to ensure that the meanings transcend the boundaries of space and time. Above all our goal as educators is to instil a love and curiosity in our students for language and what it allows us to do in our world.