School operations

Languages Education


This policy outlines the requirements relating to language provision in Victorian schools.



Victorian government and non-government schools are required under legislation (the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic)) and as a condition of their registration with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) to provide a curriculum that substantially addresses the eight learning areas:

  • The Arts
  • English
  • Health and Physical Education
  • The Humanities
  • Languages
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Technologies


In order to maintain registration with the VRQA, a school must meet the minimum standards for school registration, which include provision of languages education across all year levels, delivered by a VIT registered teacher or staff with permission to teach.

Further information on the minimum standards more generally is available at Minimum Standards and School Registration. For an information resource on school reviews against the minimum standards, including evidence requirements and compliance examples for language education, refer to: Information Resources for School, Regions and Reviewers — Minimum Standards for School Registration (staff login required).

Victorian government schools which do not provide a language program across all year levels are identified via the August school survey and February languages questionnaire. The Department then seeks an exemption from the VRQA from the requirement to provide a language program for 1 calendar year, on those schools’ behalf, and supports school planning for the provision of a language program in the subsequent year.

Under Regulation 61 of the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017 (Vic), the VRQA may exempt a school from providing a language program:

  • if the school is registered for a specific purpose
  • if the school is a specialist school, or
  • for other reasons determined by the VRQA

Languages education should be included in a school's strategic plan prepared ​​during the year of self-evaluation, review and planning, and/or in its Annual Implementation Plan.

Guidance on starting and running a language program is available on the Guidance tab. This guidance includes information on language assistants and language funding and supports schools to comply with the Minimum Standards for School Registration.

Victorian Curriculum F-10 Languages

The Victorian Curriculum F-10 Languages recognises that learning a language is a sequential and cumulative process and that students learn most effectively through frequent, regular engagement over an extended period of time and opportunities to practise and meaningfully use the language in authentic situations.

Schools are required to implement the Victorian Curriculum F-10 Languages and report on student learning against the achievement standards set out in the curriculum. In order to meet the student reporting requirements for the implementation of the languages curriculum, the Department recommends schools provide a language program that is primarily aimed at developing proficiency in the target language, taught by a qualified teacher of the language, and delivered for a minimum of 150 minutes per week, spread as evenly as possible across the week.  

Cultural awareness programs cannot replace language programs as they do not develop student proficiency in the target language. These programs tend to focus on developing cultural awareness (for example, teaching the target culture in English through games, dance, food) and teach limited vocabulary and language structures.

Online language programs provided by language tutors, including overseas based tutors who do not have VIT registration, are not recognised as an acceptable language education program by the Department, the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) and the VRQA.

Schools with such programs are advised to develop a plan with clear and feasible timelines to meet the abovementioned minimum recommendations.

Languages provision in Victorian schools

Over 20 languages are taught in mainstream government primary and secondary schools, with Chinese (Mandarin), Italian, Japanese, Indonesian, French, Auslan, Spanish and German the most studied languages. For information on the types of languages programs in schools and methods for teaching, refer to Approaches to teaching languages.

The Victorian Government also supports language provision in over 50 languages outside school hours through the Victorian School of Languages and Community Language Schools, to enable children to learn or maintain their mother tongue or heritage language and culture.

Victorian School of Languages (VSL)

VSL is a government school that offers language programs in over 50 languages to students from Foundation to Year 12 who do not have access to the study of those languages in their mainstream schools. The VSL offers face-to-face language programs outside school hours, mainly on Saturday mornings and language distance education during school hours. The VSL is also a Registered Training Organisation, through the Australian Skills Quality Authority, which is able to deliver nationally recognised Vocational Education and Training (VET) certificate courses in Applied language and VET in Schools Programs. Students from government or non-government schools can attend.

Community Language Schools

Community language schools provide language programs to school-aged children (Foundation to Year 12), after school or on weekends. These community-based, not-for-profit organisations offer programs in over 45 languages which enable children to learn or maintain their mother tongue or heritage language.


Permission to teach (PTT)
An alternative authorisation to teach and exists to address a workforce shortage or as a pathway to teacher registration. Where a qualified language teacher cannot be accessed, a school may be able to employ a suitably skilled individual, such as a native speaker who does not have VIT registration, but may be deemed to have the appropriate skills and/or experience to be granted permission to teach the language.

For further information, refer to Applying for permission to teach

Relevant legislation

Department policy outlining language provision requirements in Victorian schools

Reviewed 27 September 2021

Policy last updated

7 July 2021


  • Schools


Languages Unit

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