Australia Includes Sign Language in National Curriculum

By @vitthernandez on

Sign language as well as 14 other languages would soon become a part of Australia's National Curriculum.

This development is the result of the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority's (ACARA) issuance of a final paper which aims to have primary students spend 5 per cent of total teaching time learning another language. By the time Australian students reach years 7 and 8, the amount of time spent on learning a second language would go up to 8 percent.

At 5 per cent, that would be the equivalent of 350 hours, while even at 8 per cent, the total amount of time would actually go down to 160 hours for older students.

ACARA said that the Italian and Mandarin languages would be the first to be developed for the new curriculum, plus there are 13 more under consideration including sign language. Other languages being considered are Hindi and classical languages.

Although some states have expressed apprehension about the plan, the federal Ministry for School Education assured parents, students and educators that the second language would not be mandatory. However, it wants to ensure that Australian students are entitled to learn another language from their kindergarten years, onwards.

Deaf Australia said it was happy with the inclusion of Australian Sign Language (Auslan) in the curriculum.

"We believe every deaf child has the right to communicate in the way that suits them best, and for many deaf children, this means being bilingual in both English and Auslan," Deaf Australia Executive Officer Karen Lloyd said in a statement.

"The announcement brings up a step closer to realizing this goal for young deaf Australians and will change how Auslan and deaf people are perceived by a new generation of Australians, both deaf and hearing," she added.

In opposing the inclusion of new languages, the New South Wales Education Department explained that the new requirement may lead to teacher shortages and crowded curriculum.