Publication Date




Download Full Text (693 KB)


Bilingualism, Educational improvement, Language, Language acquisition, Language aptitude, Language fluency, Learning, Research, Researchers, Second language learning, Teaching language


(Australian Education Review ; n.54)
With a foreword by Professor Richard Johnstone, Emeritus Professor, University of Stirling.

The Author and Series Editor wish to acknowledge the contribution of Dr Yvette Slaughter, Senior Research Fellow, School of Languages and Linguistics, Univerity of Melbourne. Section 4 built upon her earlier text and work, where she assembled the data and developed the tables. She assisted in the negotiations with MCEETYA and also provided invaluable commentary in her reviewing of drafts.

See also: AER 54 cover


It is an underlying principle of AER 54 that active efforts should be made to cultivate the latent bilingual potential within Australia’s wider population and that this should be linked to major improvements in the quality of language teaching in schools. A combined approach of this kind will require investment in specialised preparation for language teachers, more time allocated to second language teaching in schools, and coordination of effort across school and post-schooling sectors. Section 1 describes the critical distinction between niche learning and mass learning of languages, and the current distribution of language competence throughout Australian society. The role of languages throughout the world is discussed, including the problem of the dominance of English. Section 2 traces the major ideologies and key social interests and voices that influenced thinking and policy making in languages education in Australia. Section 3 analyses the dynamic forces which contribute to the choice of languages provided in Australia and examines the research on how to teach and learn languages, including immersion education. Section 4 describes the Australian patterns of planning, implementation and provision of language education. Section 5 proposes several ways forward, but the focus is on improving quality of offerings, enhancing teacher education, encouraging student persistence and building a culture that expects high levels of achievement.

Place of Publication

Melbourne Vic


Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)



Second Languages and Australian Schooling