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Content Structure

The Australian Curriculum: English Foundation to Level 10 is organised into three interrelated strands that support students' growing understanding and use of Standard Australian English (English). Together the three strands focus on developing students’ knowledge, understanding and skills in listening, reading, viewing, speaking and writing. The three strands are:

  • Language: knowing about the English language
  • Literature: understanding, appreciating, responding to, analysing and creating literature
  • Literacy: expanding the repertoire of English usage.

Strands and sub-strands

Content descriptions in each strand are grouped into sub-strands that, across the levels, present a sequence of development of knowledge, understanding and skills. The sub-strands are:

LanguageLiteratureLiteracy
Language variation and change Literature and context Texts in context
Language for interaction Responding to literature Interacting with others
Text structure and organisation Examining literature Interpreting, analysing and evaluating
Expressing and developing ideas Creating literature Creating texts
Sound and letter knowledge    

Texts

Texts provide the means for communication. They can be written, spoken or multimodal, and in print or digital/online forms. Multimodal texts combine language with other means of communication such as visual images, soundtrack or spoken word, as in film or computer presentation media. Texts provide important opportunities for learning about aspects of human experience and about aesthetic value. Many of the tasks that students undertake in and out of school involve understanding and producing imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, media texts, everyday texts and workplace texts.

The term ‘literature’ refers to past and present texts across a range of cultural contexts that are valued for their form and style and are recognised as having enduring or artistic value. While the nature of what constitutes literary texts is dynamic and evolving, they are seen as having personal, social, cultural and aesthetic value and potential for enriching students’ scope of experience. Literature includes a broad range of forms such as novels, poetry, short stories and plays; fiction for young adults and children, multimodal texts such as film, and a variety of non-fiction. Literary texts also include excerpts from longer texts. This enables a range of literary texts to be included within any one level for close study or comparative purposes.

English educators use many ways of categorising texts. The descriptions of texts used in the Australian Curriculum: English are based on practical as well as conceptual considerations. The specific designation of a strand labelled ‘literature’ is aimed at encouraging teachers working at all levels not only to use texts conventionally understood as ‘literary’, but also to engage students in examining, evaluating and discussing texts in increasingly sophisticated and informed ‘literary’ ways.

The usefulness of distinctions among types of texts relates largely to how clearly at each level these distinctions can guide the selection of materials for students to listen to, read, view, write and create, and the kinds of purposeful activities that can be organised around these materials.

The language modes

The processes of listening, speaking, reading, viewing and writing, also known as language modes, are interrelated and the learning of one often supports and extends learning of the others. To acknowledge these interrelationships, content descriptions in each strand of the Australian Curriculum: English incorporate the processes of listening, speaking, reading, viewing and writing in an integrated and interdependent way.

Classroom contexts that address particular content descriptions will necessarily draw from more than one of these processes in order to support students’ effective learning. For example, students will learn new vocabulary through listening and reading and apply their knowledge and understanding in their speaking and writing as well as in their comprehension of both spoken and written texts.

Content descriptions can also be viewed by these processes or language modes. In this aspect, each content description has been placed in the mode in which a major focus of its learning occurs. Content descriptions can be filtered to identify all relevant processes or language modes.

Level descriptions

Level descriptions have three functions. First, they emphasise the interrelated nature of the three strands and the expectation that planning an English program will involve integration of content from the strands. Second, they provide information about the learning contexts that are appropriate at each level for learning across the Language, Literature and Literacy strands. Third, they provide an overview of the range of texts to be studied and an indication of their complexity and key features. They also describe differences in the texts that students create. In the early levels, development in reading and writing is rapid and clear distinctions in text complexity can be made so descriptions are written for each level at Foundation, 1 and 2. In Levels 3–10, the two-level description provides for greater flexibility.

Content descriptions

The Australian Curriculum: English includes content descriptions at each level. These describe the knowledge, understanding, skills and processes that teachers are expected to teach and students are expected to learn, but do not prescribe approaches to teaching. Learning in English is recursive and cumulative, and builds on concepts, skills and processes developed in earlier levels. Nevertheless, the content descriptions have been written to ensure that learning is appropriately ordered and that unnecessary repetition is avoided. However, a concept or skill introduced at one level may be revisited, strengthened and extended at later levels as needed.

Content elaborations

Content elaborations are provided for Foundation to Level 10 to illustrate and exemplify content and assist teachers in developing a common understanding of the content descriptions. They are not intended to be comprehensive content points that all students need to be taught.

Glossary

A glossary is provided to support a common understanding of key terms in the content descriptions.

Language: knowing about the English language

In the Language strand, students develop their knowledge of the English language and how it works. They learn that changes in English are related to historical developments and the geographical differences of its users over the centuries, and that there are many differences in dialect and accent. They learn how language enables people to interact effectively, to build and maintain relationships and to express and exchange knowledge, skills, attitudes, feelings and opinions. They discover the patterns and purposes of English usage, including spelling, grammar and punctuation at the levels of the word, sentence and extended text, and they study the connections between these levels. By developing a body of knowledge about these patterns and their connections, students learn to communicate effectively through coherent, well-structured sentences and texts. They gain a consistent way of understanding and talking about language, language-in-use and language-as-system, so they can reflect on their own speaking and writing and discuss these productively with others.

Language

Language variation and change: Students learn that languages and dialects are constantly evolving due to historical, social and cultural changes, demographic movements and technological innovations. They come to understand that these factors, along with new virtual communities and environments, continue to affect the nature and spread of English.

Language for interaction: Students learn that the language used by individuals varies according to their social setting and the relationships between the participants. They learn that accents and styles of speech and idiom are part of the creation and expression of personal and social identities.

Text structure and organisation: Students learn how texts are structured to achieve particular purposes; how language is used to create texts that are cohesive and coherent; how texts about more specialised topics contain more complex language patterns and features; and how the author guides the reader/viewer through the text through effective use of resources at the level of the whole text, the paragraph and the sentence.

Expressing and developing ideas: Students learn how, in a text, effective authors control and use an increasingly differentiated range of clause structures, words and word groups, as well as combinations of sound, image, movement, verbal elements and layout. They learn that the conventions, patterns and generalisations that relate to English spelling involve the origins of words, word endings, Greek and Latin roots, base words and affixes.

Sound and letter knowledge: Students develop knowledge about the sounds of English and learn to identify the sounds in spoken words. They learn the letters of the alphabet and how to represent spoken words by using combinations of these letters.

Language

The Language strand is based on concepts drawn largely from historical and linguistic accounts of the English language. These approaches draw attention to the ways in which languages change, and to the distinction between language-in-use and language-as-system. These approaches also acknowledge that students’ ability to use grammar will exceed their ability to explicitly reflect on grammar. Young children, for example, will use complex sentences before they can explain how these are structured. These approaches, in describing language, also pay attention to both the structure (syntax) and meaning (semantics) at the level of the word, the sentence and the text. The Australian Curriculum: English uses standard grammatical terminology within a contextual framework, in which language choices are seen to vary according to the topics at hand, the nature and proximity of the relationships between the language users, and the modalities or channels of communication available. This strand informs the planning and conduct of teaching and learning activities in English and provides resources that connect to key concepts and skills in the other strands.

Literature: understanding, appreciating, responding to, analysing and creating literature

The Literature strand aims to engage students in the study of literary texts of personal, cultural, social and aesthetic value. These texts include some that are recognised as having enduring social and artistic value and some that attract contemporary attention. Texts are chosen because they are judged to have potential for enriching the lives of students, expanding the scope of their experience, and because they represent effective and interesting features of form and style. Learning to appreciate literary texts and to create their own literary texts enriches students’ understanding of human experiences and the capacity for language to deepen those experiences. It builds students’ knowledge about how language can be used for aesthetic ends, to create particular emotional, intellectual or philosophical effects. Students interpret, appreciate, evaluate and create literary texts such as short stories, novels, poetry, prose, plays, film and multimodal texts, in spoken, print and digital/online forms. Texts recognised as having enduring artistic and cultural value are drawn from world and Australian literature. These include the oral narrative traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, texts from Asia, texts from Australia’s immigrant cultures and texts of the students’ choice.

Literature

Literature and context: Students learn how ideas and viewpoints about events, issues and characters that are expressed by authors in texts are drawn from and shaped by different historical, social and cultural contexts.

Responding to literature: Students learn to identify personal ideas, experiences and opinions about literary texts and discuss them with others. They learn how to recognise areas of agreement and difference, and how to develop and refine their interpretations through discussion and argument.

Examining literature: Students learn how to explain and analyse the ways in which stories, characters, settings and experiences are reflected in particular literary genres, and how to discuss the appeal of these genres. They learn how to compare and appraise the ways authors use language and literary techniques and devices to influence readers. They also learn to understand, interpret, discuss and evaluate how certain stylistic choices can create multiple layers of interpretation and effect.

Creating literature: Students learn how to use personal knowledge and literary texts as starting points to create imaginative writing in different forms and genres and for particular audiences. Using print, digital and online media, students develop skills that allow them to convey meaning, address significant issues and heighten engagement and impact.

Literature

There are many approaches to the study of literature. In the Australian Curriculum: English the sources drawn on most substantially include:

  • cultural studies, with emphasis on the different ways in which literature is significant in everyday life
  • structuralism, with its emphasis on close analysis of literary works and the key ideas on which they are based; for example, the detailed stylistic study of differing styles of literary work
  • comparativism, with its emphasis on comparisons of works of literature from different language, ethnic and cultural backgrounds
  • historicism, with its emphasis on exploring the relationships between historical, cultural and literary traditions.

The Literature strand also gives students the opportunity to study the processes by which certain literary works become ‘prized’ and ‘perennial’, the ‘valuing’ process itself, and why it is that most cultures have works they cherish. The approach to learning in this strand is not to present students with an English literary canon that is a static entity, but rather to invite their curiosity about, and develop an increasingly specialised inquiry into, the historical, cultural and aesthetic processes by which works come to be regarded as valued and cherished.

Literacy: expanding the repertoire of English usage

The Literacy strand aims to develop students’ ability to interpret and create texts with appropriateness, accuracy, confidence, fluency and efficacy for learning in and out of school, and for participating in Australian life more generally. Texts chosen include media texts, everyday texts and workplace texts from increasingly complex and unfamiliar settings, ranging from the everyday language of personal experience to more abstract, specialised and technical language, including the language of schooling and academic study. Students learn to adapt language to meet the demands of more general or more specialised purposes, audiences and contexts. They learn about the different ways in which knowledge and opinion are represented and developed in texts, and about how more or less abstraction and complexity can be shown through language and through multimodal representations. This means that print and digital contexts are included, and that listening, viewing, reading, speaking, writing and creating are all developed systematically and concurrently.

Literacy

Texts in context: Students learn that texts from different cultures or historical periods may reveal different patterns in how they go about narrating, informing and persuading.

Interacting with others: Students learn how individuals and groups use language patterns to express ideas and key concepts to develop and defend arguments. They learn how to promote a point of view by designing, rehearsing and delivering spoken and written presentations and by appropriately selecting and sequencing linguistic and multimodal elements.

Interpreting, analysing, evaluating: Students learn to comprehend what they read and view by applying growing contextual, semantic, grammatical and phonic knowledge. They develop more sophisticated processes for interpreting, analysing, evaluating and critiquing ideas, information and issues from a variety of sources. They explore the ways conventions and structures are used in written, digital, multimedia and cinematic texts to entertain, inform and persuade audiences, and they use their growing knowledge of textual features to explain how texts make an impact on different audiences.

Creating texts: Students apply knowledge they have developed in other strands and sub-strands to create with clarity, authority and novelty a range of spoken, written and multimodal texts that entertain, inform and persuade audiences. They do so by strategically selecting key aspects of a topic as well as language, visual and audio features. They learn how to edit for enhanced meaning and effect by refining ideas, reordering sentences, adding or substituting words for clarity, and removing repetition. They develop and consolidate a handwriting style that is legible, fluent and automatic, and that supports sustained writing. They learn to use a range of software programs including word processing software, selecting purposefully from a range of functions to communicate and create clear, effective, informative and innovative texts.

Literacy

The Literacy strand takes account of approaches to literacy learning that are based on the development of skills, social and psychological growth, and critical and cultural analysis. These approaches hold that the technical, intellectual and cultural resources related to competence in literacy have developed to serve the big and small practical, everyday communication purposes associated with living and participating in societies such as contemporary Australia. These technical, intellectual and cultural resources include:

  • fluency in the sound–letter correspondences of English
  • an expanding reading, writing and speaking vocabulary and a grasp of grammatical and textual patterns sufficient to understand and learn from texts encountered in and out of school, and to create effective and innovative texts
  • fluency and innovation in reading, viewing and creating texts in different settings
  • the skill and disposition needed to analyse and understand the philosophical, moral, political and aesthetic bases on which many texts are built
  • an interest in expanding the range of materials listened to, viewed and read, and in experimenting with innovative ways of expressing increasingly subtle and complex ideas through texts.

Relationships between the strands

Each strand contributes to the study of English its own distinctive goals, body of knowledge, history of ideas and interests, and each relates to material worth studying in its own right. Teaching, learning and assessment programs should balance and integrate the three strands in order to support the development of knowledge, understanding and skills. The key focal point for a unit of work or a learning activity may arise from any one of the strands, but the intention is that units and activities draw on all three strands in ways that are integrated and clear to learners.

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