Understanding Language: A professional development day for school teachers

Saturday 21 March

Arts Building - Arts Lecture Room 5

  • On Campus

Event details


Date and time

  • Saturday 21 March 2020
    9am - 2.30pm

Event type

  • On Campus


  • A secondary school career adviser or teacher

Event Fee

  • $300


  • Registrations opening soon

Does your classroom offer the best possible environment for culturally diverse students? Do you know enough about language to be able to use this knowledge to build healthy relationships, foster leadership and create positive learning?

A staggering number of students in Australian primary and secondary schools speak languages and dialects other than Standard Australian English. When these students attend school, they must grapple with a new system. Failing to pick up a language quickly can drastically impede their learning.
How can we ensure our students thrive? 

One of the biggest obstacles is a lack of understanding regarding how language works. This one-day professional development workshop for WA teachers will provide you with the opportunity to workshop ideas and ask questions, led by a team of accomplished, dedicated and successful linguists at The University of Western Australia and experienced Educators from the WA Department of Education.

Together, we will debunk myths and get each other thinking. We will encourage each other to critically reflect on our own beliefs and practice.
We will encourage each other to critically reflect on our own beliefs and practice. Let’s start now. 

How do the following three statements impact your teaching?

  • People tend to think language exists in dictionaries and grammars, but language thrives in orality. It has since our ancestors’ first grunts and gestures and it constitutes the heart and soul of traditional culture.
  • We all have accents, but some are more marked than others. A student’s ‘accent’ does not constitute a problem.
  • Beliefs in the existence of ‘good English’ and ‘broken English’ can seriously undermine student confidence and self-esteem with significant consequences for the development of their intellectual ability and subsequent life pathways.

Over the course of the professional development day we will cover some of the following topics: 

  • Definitions of language and why these definitions are always political.
  • Why are some languages seen as being ‘better’ than others?
  • How can we support students with linguistically diverse backgrounds?
  • What is the role of language in a person’s self-esteem and how can teachers help build it?
  • What’s different about learning to become competent and literate in one’s home language as opposed to becoming competent and literate in a new language?
  • How do differences between different varieties of English – e.g. Standard Australian English versus Aboriginal English – influence teaching and learning?
  • What is Aboriginal English and why is it important for my students? 
This offering aligns with the WA Department of Education’s newly implemented Aboriginal Cultural Standards Framework and the Capability Framework – Teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander EAL/D Learners.