Monash University
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Policy and implementation for the teaching of Asian languages in Australian primary schools - a case study of Japanese in Victoria

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posted on 2017-03-01, 03:57 authored by Okumura, Shinji
This thesis provides a snapshot of recent language policy initiatives and examines how languages education is being implemented in Victoria in four Primary schools, exploring the nexus between policy and practice. The thesis takes a case study approach, drawing upon interview data from primary school principals, Japanese language teachers, and classroom teachers, as well as government personnel, and members of language teachers’ associations. In examining the connection between policy “intention” and its “implementation” (Lo Bianco and Aliani, 2013) the study applies my expansion of Kaplan and Baldauf’s (1997, 2005) seven components for the examination of the implementation of language-in-education policy. This study identifies several distinctive policy intentions of the Victorian Government which were intended to enable the facilitation of languages education for a student’s personal development, social development, and economic success in this multicultural society. The study particularly confirmed that the Victorian language policy was formulated based on various research insights related to language education and was evaluated reflectively. Furthermore, the Victorian Government actively involved the local community in the policy implementation, which allowed the local community to acknowledge the importance of languages education and to develop the quality of languages education in Victoria. In regard to the nexus between policy and practice, the study identifies various positive impacts of policy, which arose with and were strengthened by the provision of extra funding, often leading to successful implementation and practice within the Japanese programs examined. The current study, in particular, confirmed that strong relationships between policy and practice resulted in the development and expansion of new technology and the ability to explore authentic opportunities for languages education. This study also identifies, however, that in the key area of curriculum the nexus between policy and practice was more problematic. Although policy initiatives supporting innovative approaches such as CLIL, and initiatives aimed at strengthening the links between primary and secondary programs resulted in promising new developments in the focal schools, these were undermined by failures in other policy and resource areas to provide appropriate support. In particular, policies on the goals of language teaching, and teaching time allocation were regarded by schools as unrealistic and un-implementable, within existing school structures and budgets. In addition, in some cases training and information for both Japanese teachers and other school personnel was inadequate to ensure that innovative approaches were properly understood, and that teachers had the skills and supportive conditions to implement them. In these cases, the intention of the policy was not effectively captured in its implementation. Considering the above-mentioned findings, the study therefore argues for the significance of the continuity of involving all community members who are associated with language in-education policy and its implementation, and ensuring that policy ideas are matched by adequate resourcing and adjustments to educational structures, and are implemented in a measured and sustainable way. The continuing wider involvement of all participants and a greater match between policy ideas and the supports needed to implement them will lead to the provision of more developed languages education for children in Victoria.


Principal supervisor

Robyn Spence-Brown

Additional supervisor 1

Helen Marriott

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics

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Faculty of Arts

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