Language and Literacy
for migrant children in Australia
National Experts Meeting on Education of Migrants, 1 3-14 October 2008
Starters: some quick observations…
•Some 30% of our students speak a language other
than English at home.
•Yet no discernable difference in education
performance at age 15 between Australian students
from English-speaking backgrounds and Non-ESBs
•In fact, Australian students from English-speaking
backgrounds are less likely to complete Year 12 than
•The post-school outcomes of ESBs are as good, if not
better, that NESBs.
Does this mean …
….that we don’t have a problem?
…. or that we need to frame our policy
The policy pragmatist’s approach :
What matters and how can we fix?
A two pronged approach:
•We know that competency in the language of instruction
matters – for both children and parents.
Priority: English immersion and ongoing support
•We know that literacy is a good predictor of education
outcomes – for all students.
Priority: Monitoring, prevention, early intervention,
scaffolding for all at-risk
English as a Second Language – New
Arrivals (ESL-NA) program
• Australian Government provides funding under the ESL-
NA Program to States and Territory Governments to
assist with the cost of delivering intensive English
language tuition to newly arrived migrant and refugee
• Minimum of 6 months intensive English language tuition
for newly arrived migrant school students and 12 months
for refugee school students.
• Intensive English language tuition is provided in
Intensive English Centres in metropolitan areas or
• Where tuition is provided in schools, students are
expected to receive a minimum of 10 hours of ESL
assistance per week.
Language, Literacy and Numeracy
•Available to job seekers aged from 15 years.
•Assists with language, literacy and numeracy skills to
enable participants to achieve sustainable employment or
undertake further education and/or training.
•LLNP provides up to 800 hours of contextualised training
tailored to meet the individual needs, aspirations and
circumstances of the client.
Adult Migrant English Program –
• education and settlement program
• “basic” English skills - reading, writing, speaking,
•Up to 510 hours tuition for adults, but also available to
16-18 year olds who are unable to attend English classes
•Up to 400 additional hours English language tuition is
available for some humanitarian entrants under the
Special Preparatory Program.
States provide a range of language
support programs also …
Time to Talk (Western Australia)
•Oral language package for NESBs and Indigenous
students in early school years to build on English native
ESL specialist teachers
Recognised courses at graduate and post
There is no unmet demand in our universities…
…but do we have adequate numbers opting for
How well do we provide for ongoing
… what about mainstream teachers – all
teachers are teachers of English and
But by far the focus is on literacy skills…
• $577.4M in 07/08 Federal Budget to fund a range of literacy
support projects across states and territories – some specifically
targeted at migrant students
• Reading Recovery including vouchers for one-to-one tutoring for
primary and secondary students with low literacy skills
• Assessment tools and teaching resources
• State Literacy strategy for whole-of-school approach to literacy
• Professional development in literacy teaching (NSW, Qld, Vic,
• Extra specialist literacy support for teachers (ACT)
• Parents as Tutors (ACT)
• …… and the list goes on…..
Outside the school…
A big emphasis on reading resources:
•Significant investment in children and family friendly
•Early Childhood Learning Resources for parents, carers
and practitioners to introduce and develop early literacy
and numeracy learning to young children
•Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters
And the final word is on …
monitoring, assessment, reporting…
We monitor general progress of our
Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Australia (LSIA)
Respondents from an administrative Settlement Database
and followed over time
Topics covered include English language proficiency and
learning, education and qualifications, employment, health,
labour force activity and more.
First two (out of three) surveys completed included
migrants at least 15 years of age
..And we are starting younger and staying
longer with monitoring and assessment in
•Longitudinal qualitative information on our youth (15- 25yos)
(LSAY), tied to PISA and maybe TALIS in future
•Ministers agreed to standardised assessment in Years 3, 5, 7 and
9 in schools
Have we got balance between accountability and formative
•Now rolling out nationally Australian Early Development Index
Community-based school readiness tool
In the year before compulsory education
5 domains (physical health and wellbeing, social competency,
emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills,
communication skills, general knowledge)
Australian Delegation to the OECD