Policy last updated
7 July 2021
This policy outlines the requirements relating to language provision in Victorian schools.
- Schools must provide a language program for students from Foundation to Year 10.
- Language programs must be delivered by a or staff with (refer to definitions below), across all year levels.
- Guidance on starting and running a language program, including information on language assistants, is available on the .
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
- Health and Physical Education
- The Humanities
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 or staff with .
Further information on the minimum standards more generally is available at . For an information resource on school reviews against the minimum standards, including evidence requirements and compliance examples for language education, refer to: (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 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 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 .
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)
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
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.
This guidance contains the following chapters:
- What makes a quality language program
- Start a new language program
- Staffing a language program
- Language assistants program
- Language program funding, resources and support
- Approaches to teaching languages
- Complementary language providers
- Promote learning a language
- Languages data and research
What makes a quality language program
What makes a quality language program
This page includes information on what schools can do to make sure their language programs are high quality.
Learning a language is a sequential and cumulative process. Students learn most effectively through:
- frequent, regular lessons including those conducted entirely in the target language
- engagement over an extended period of time
- opportunities to practise and meaningfully use the language in authentic situations
We recommend schools plan a language program that is:
- primarily aimed at developing proficiency in the target language
- taught by a qualified teacher of the language
- delivered for a minimum of 150 minutes per week, spread as evenly as possible across the week
- strongly supported by the school community, including by the school administration, staff, parents and students and appropriate partnerships
- resourced to an appropriate level, comparable with other learning areas in the school
- flexible in its approach to delivery and resourcing, including changing from year to year as required
- part of a planned pathway for languages learning
Continuity and frequency of language learning will contribute significantly to a student gaining proficiency in the language.
Some primary schools may face challenges in providing 150 minutes of languages education per week. If a school is unable to initially provide the recommended 150 minute time allocation it should explicitly build into its Strategic Plan strategies detailing how the school will incrementally increase time allocation for languages education. Meeting the recommended time allocation will ensure students have the opportunity to achieve a level of linguistic proficiency.
The Department's Languages Unit can advise schools on strategies to extend students' exposure to the language they are learning and meet the recommended time allocation of 150 minutes per week of languages education.
School and community commitment
Schools should develop language programs through transparent consultation, and ensure the school and broader community are informed about the benefits of languages education. This will ensure their support and commitment for the program and enable its long-term viability. School and community commitment to a language program can also be developed through embedding languages learning into the culture of the school.
Refer to the guidance chapter for information on consulting with and engaging the school community in a school language program and for materials to promote learning a language to students and the community.
Flexible approaches, pathways and partnerships
Greater collaboration between schools, in and across clusters, allows them to share resources and ideas. It also creates languages learning pathways for students moving between schools in a locality or in the transition from primary to secondary education. Locally developed strategies, including blended learning, can also sustain language programs, especially in remote areas where issues of distance and staffing impact on a school's capacity to provide a program.
A flexible approach to delivery may be necessary to sustain a language program through short term or year-to-year issues, particularly in relation to staffing. Every effort should be made to provide continuity for programs when short term issues arise. Schools should consider alternative approaches such as the use of video conferencing to share access to a qualified language teacher when one is not available on site.
Programs which are linked to other schools or have external support are more likely to be continued. Schools with sister school relationships where connections are made around language programs provide support and motivation for both students and staff to maintain the programs.
Schools are also encouraged to explore cluster or cooperative arrangements to share language teachers and language support staff, and to share curriculum planning and resources (for example, linking students and teachers from different schools to undertake learning activities, sharing electronic and hard copy resources, curriculum planning to ensure consistency and continuity, and flexible delivery via virtual conferencing).
Partnerships with the or a can also offer opportunities to strengthen language education, creating more opportunities for students to use the languages they are learning in meaningful and authentic ways.
Student motivation and engagement
Motivation is a consistently strong predictor of successful language learning.
Student motivation and engagement with languages learning is increased when:
- language programs are recognised and valued by parents, school leadership, teachers and the wider community
- student achievements are recognised and celebrated within the school and broader community
- students understand the cognitive, social and practical benefits of learning a language
- students can use the language they are learning for authentic, meaningful communication
- students have specific goals for languages learning
- students have regular opportunities to practice in a supportive environment where fluency rather than accuracy is the initial aim
- students have an interest in or understanding of the culture associated with the language
Start a new language program
Start a new language program
This page includes the process and considerations for setting up a new language program.
Overview of the process
Establishing a high quality, sustainable language program which aims for students to develop proficiency in a language is not a short-term project.
Schools need to involve their communities in key decisions such as what language will be taught, and build an understanding of the cognitive, learning and practical benefits students will gain from learning a language.
Schools starting a new language program should establish timelines that allow for the following, before the introduction of a program:
- consultation with the community
- building demand and support for the language program
- decision-making around language choice and program structure
- resourcing and staffing allocation
These timelines will vary based on the local school context and factors such as:
- availability of VIT registered teachers
- the type of program to be taught
- the delivery mode (face-to-face, blended learning, virtual conferencing)
- the program structure (whole school or year level, number of lessons per week and how lessons are sequenced across the week)
Schools may consider establishing a languages committee, possibly as a sub-committee of the school council, to guide the process. The languages committee should include representation from the school council, the school administration, teachers, parents and students where appropriate.
For more information, refer to:
- — information about staffing a languages program, options for identifying teachers, the required qualifications and teacher retention.
- — information about government school funding for languages programs within the SRP, and other resources and support available.
Investigating the options
A complete picture of the languages spoken and taught in your local community can inform decisions about which languages are most appropriate for your school. As a starting point, find out:
- the languages spoken at home by students’ families, and the numbers of families speaking each of those languages (schools can use the LBOTE data in CASES 21)
- the predominant languages spoken in the wider school community (available from , by postcode)
- relevant historical factors in the local area (for example, the language background/s of early European settlers in the region)
- the languages taught at nearby kindergartens, community language schools, government and non-government schools, and for primary schools, the language/s taught in the secondary colleges to which most students will transition
- the number of students learning a language outside regular school hours through a community language school or at the Victorian School of Languages, and the languages they are learning
A list of government schools and the languages taught in 2019 is available to assist. Refer to:
A list of Community Languages Schools in Victoria which includes campus locations, languages taught and contact information is also available. Refer to:
Pathways and partnerships
Local schools or clusters of schools should work together to ensure that students are provided with a languages learning pathway from Prep through to senior secondary schooling. An early start and continuity of language learning over time are key to developing proficiency in a language in addition to English. Schools are encouraged to include local kindergartens and playgroups as well as other primary and secondary schools in their investigations about languages and pathways for languages in their local area.
Partnerships with local schools can be established for joint planning and sharing resources, including staffing.
Partnerships with local community groups or businesses provide opportunities for authentic languages learning. Find out about:
- cultural organisations in the local area (such as social clubs or facilities for elderly citizens of a particular language background) where languages other than English are spoken
- local businesses with links to countries where languages other than English are spoken
Programs, resources and support
The decision about what language to teach may also be influenced by the available resources, including trained staff to support a particular language. The type of program that will be offered and the availability of suitably trained staff are interdependent and both need to be investigated prior to making a decision.
Consider investigating the following:
- the types of language programs that are run successfully in the local area or in other Victorian schools. Consider arranging for members of the school council, interested parents and staff members to visit schools which are recognised as having effective language programs. Your Regional Languages Project Officer may be able to recommend schools to approach, refer to
- support available for the teaching of specific languages in schools, including the availability of assistants, refer to
- the availability of teaching and learning materials in particular languages, including digital and online resources suitable for Victorian students, refer to
- the languages spoken by staff members and any language teaching qualifications held by current staff
- whether the relevant language-specific teacher associations or the Regional Languages Project Officer or Language Adviser can connect the school with any qualified languages teachers in the local area, refer to
- whether the Victorian School of Languages or Community Languages Australia can identify a qualified languages teacher or a teacher who is able to be given permission to teach by VIT whilst they are upgrading their qualifications, refer to or
- whether there are any local community members with proficiency or qualifications in the selected language who are willing to undertake further training to become a qualified languages teacher
Consulting the community
One of the most important decisions for any school is which language or languages will be taught. In order to successfully implement a language program in your school, you need strong support from your school community.
Prepare the way
Prepare the way by promoting the benefits of languages learning to the school community using resources that demonstrate:
- how learning a language supports the development of cognitive, literacy, problem-solving, intercultural and communication skills, and global understanding
- the potential longer-term employment, economic and societal benefits of gaining proficiency in a language or languages in addition to English
Schools may use the following resources highlighting the value of language learning at parent information nights or other events:
- — A paper outlining the benefits of learning a language based on research findings.
- — This brochure outlines the benefits of learning a third language, arguing that speaking two languages makes it easier to learn a third language and that, in turn, learning a third language boosts bilingual skills.
- — This brochure rebuts some common myths about language learning and multilingualism including the crowded curriculum, community languages as undermining literacy in English and unfair competition coming from students with a background in a community language.
- — A research report presenting case studies of schools which have established effective links between teaching languages and early literacy development in English.
School stories featuring a video testimonial by the principal and languages teachers about the personal, pedagogical and vocational benefits of languages learning:
Tips for gaining school community consensus
Community consultation is even more critical when a school is considering replacing an existing language program with a program in a new language. All relevant stakeholders in the school community should be informed and have the opportunity to provide feedback, to avoid tension and a potential sense of loss. The rationale for a possible change of language should be clear and discussed openly so it can be understood by all members of the school community.
Options for the consultation process
Summarise your investigations into languages, programs, pathways and options for your school and make this information available to the school council and school community for consideration prior to consulting about the choice of language. It may be appropriate to provide translated information or use interpreters to share the information effectively.
Consultation can take place face-to-face or through written or online feedback. It is important that all members of the school community are well-informed about the options and have the opportunity to provide input.
Consider holding a school languages forum, where a summary of the information collected can be presented, and everyone has the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.
If deciding a suitable language or languages is likely to be controversial, it may be useful to identify a 'neutral' person to chair the meeting, if possible from outside the immediate school community. Use translated material and interpreters, where necessary, to ensure that the information presented is accessible to everyone.
Consider using a written or online survey to gauge parents' opinions about the choice of a language, using translations into community languages, if appropriate. Ask parents for up to three suggestions, in order of preference, including the reasons parents consider the most compelling for teaching these particular languages.
Staffing a language program
Staffing a language program
VIT registration requirements
All teachers in Victoria must be registered with the VIT. There are different categories of registration: full registration, provisional registration, early childhood teacher and non-practising teacher. For information about VIT registration requirements, refer to .
Languages teaching qualifications
In addition to general teaching qualifications, the recommended qualifications for teaching languages in Victorian government schools are:
- a 3-year major in the language, or a Statement of Equivalence (for language proficiency at third year exit level) from a Victorian university which teaches the language
- an approved languages methodology course (including both theory and practicum).
Entry requirements for a languages methodology course include a 3-year major in the language, or a Statement of Equivalence (for language proficiency at third year exit level).
Statement of Equivalence
Procedures have been developed by the Department in conjunction with Victorian universities to enable universities to assess the oral and written language proficiency of potential languages teachers, and their understanding of the relevant society, culture and literature. The criteria for judgement are equivalent to those used for assessing students exiting third year tertiary level. For more information, refer to:
Prospective candidates need to contact the university of their choice to arrange an assessment. Any costs involved will be the responsibility of the candidate. Upon the completion of the assessment, the university will provide the applicant with the results. The applicant should retain the assessment record for use in providing evidence of language proficiency for registration with the VIT, to prospective employers, or for entry to relevant courses.
For a list of Victorian universities, refer to:
Permission to Teach
Permission to Teach (PTT) is an alternative authorisation to teach and exists to address a workforce shortage or as a pathway to teacher registration. Schools experiencing difficulties recruiting a VIT registered teacher to deliver a language program can offer a short-term employment to an Education Support staff to undertake the duties of a teacher in delivering and/or assessing student participation in the school’s language program.
Schools choosing to employ an Education Support staff need to support the staff to gain a PTT. The VIT will require the schools to provide evidence that they have attempted to employ a VIT registered teacher to fill the teaching position. PTT is not a renewable form of registration and is limited to a maximum of 3 years for any grant. During this period, schools must support the PTT holder to progress towards teacher registration. For further information, refer to .
Normal recruitment and employment processes apply for language teachers. Information about employment in Victorian government schools including a link to the online job search and application tool, Recruitment Online, is available at .
When a language teaching position is hard-to-staff, schools can explore the range of incentives the Department offers to increase the supply of high-quality teachers in schools, including:
- to attract and retain teachers in hard-to-staff positions. Evidence shows that a combination of incentives is most effective at encouraging teachers to move where they're needed most.
- aims to attract excellent teachers to fill hard-to-staff positions in government schools across the state. It also provides support to teachers settling into their new roles.
- Teacher professional development grants to support job satisfaction and career development. Teachers can receive a financial incentive payment and time release to undertake professional development.
Eligibility for targeted financial incentives are determined based on the geographical remoteness of a school, subject specialisation, and factors relevant to hard-to-staff positions within the school. Should a school identify a particular language as hard to staff subject and if approved, an incentive position can be created for the language position. Refer to:
Language Teacher Register
The assists schools find qualified language teachers to fill vacant language teaching positions in government schools. The register is open to graduating, graduate and currently employed language teachers who are seeking a language teaching position in a government primary or secondary school. Eligible language teachers can register using the 'SurveyMonkey' online form.
School principals may contact the Languages Unit at if they are seeking to employ a language teacher. When a relevant teaching position becomes available, a registrant will be sent, via email, the details of this position. The onus is on the registrant to contact the school and formally apply for the position.
Further options for identifying languages teachers
A relevant language-specific teacher association or Languages Regional Project Officer may be able to help to connect schools with qualified languages teachers who are looking for employment or who live in the local area. Contact details are available on the page.
The or may be able to assist with identifying a qualified languages teacher or a teacher who can get permission to teach from VIT whilst they are upgrading their qualifications to get full VIT registration.
Language assistants program
Language assistants programs
A number of language assistants programs are available to Victorian schools. These programs place language assistants in selected schools for up to 12 months to support and enrich languages programs through the provision of contemporary linguistic and cultural support.
Language assistants are:
- native speakers of the target language
- proficient in English
- placed in schools for up to 12 months.
Language assistants can share contemporary knowledge of the language and culture, and provide opportunities for language teachers and students to increase their fluency and confidence in the target language. They provide assistance with both written and spoken forms of the language and promote an understanding of the language and culture across the broader school community.
Language assistants support qualified language teachers in the development and delivery of a school's language program. They are not a replacement for a qualified language teacher. Schools must have a VIT registered language teacher delivering a language program to be eligible for the allocation of a language assistant.
Local Native-speaker Language Assistants Program 2022
The Local Native-speaker Language Assistants Program (LNLAP) 2022 places local native-like speakers of French, German, Indonesian, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese in selected Victorian government schools to enrich their provision of language education over the course of one school year.
The LNLAP temporarily replaces the Department’s Funded Language Assistants Program (FLAP), whereby language assistants are sourced from overseas. Due to the Australian Government’s international travel restrictions in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the FLAP will not proceed in 2022. The Department will assess the feasibility of delivering the FLAP in 2023, having regard to the latest health and travel advice.
CO.AS.IT. Italian Language Assistants Program (Funded)
The Italian Language Assistants Program places approximately 25 assistants in Victorian government and non-government schools for a school year beginning Term 2. The Italian assistants are funded by CO.AS.IT. (Comitato Assistenza Italiano) and the Italian Government, with funding support from the Department.
CO.AS.IT. manages the Italian Language Assistants Program, including the recruitment of the assistants, school application processes, payment of the assistants' salary and professional learning support for the assistants during their placement.
The school application and allocation process is conducted annually between October to December.
Greek Seconded Teacher Program
The Greek Seconded Teacher Program seconds qualified Greek teachers to work in Victorian schools and universities to support the teaching of Greek. The program is funded and administered by the Hellenic Ministry of Education, and in Victoria is administered by the Greek Consulate in Melbourne.
Greek seconded teachers are allocated by the Greek Consulate in Melbourne to support the teaching of Greek in government and non-government schools and Greek community language schools. For information about the Greek Seconded Teacher Program, visit .
Tertiary student assistants
The University of Melbourne offers schools experience as a breadth subject which provides tertiary students, including students with an intermediate level of communicative competence or higher in Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, French, German or Italian, with a placement of up to 20 hours in a Victorian school.
The school placement is supplemented by university-based workshops providing insight into the Victorian school system, contemporary approaches to teaching and learning, and an understanding of the role of tertiary student assistants in supporting school-based programs. For more information, visit .
Schools may wish to use volunteer parents, community members or former students to support their languages programs. As well as complying with the Department's policy for volunteer workers, schools should ensure that any volunteer providing support for a languages program has an appropriate level of cultural understanding and proficiency in the language, including formal education, in Australia or in a country where the language is spoken.
Language program funding, resources and support
Language program funding, resources and support
Government school funding
Government schools are funded through their Student Resource Package (SRP) to provide programs in all curriculum areas, including Languages.
Principals can access a report which identifies the current notional languages education budget within the SRP Core. For information about how to access the Languages Education — Notional Budget report, refer to:
Other resources and support
Schools are encouraged to explore cluster or cooperative arrangements to share resources. This could include linking students and teachers from different schools to undertake learning activities, sharing electronic and hard copy resources, curriculum planning to ensure consistency and continuity, and flexible delivery by virtual conferencing.
The Department’s Languages Unit and/or language-specific teacher associations will be able to advise on any financial and non-financial support available from foreign governments or cultural organisations to support the teaching of a specific language. For more information, refer to .
A collection of curriculum-aligned, content-rich digital resources to support languages learning, including self-directed interactive learning activities, printable worksheets and learning tools for language teachers to create virtual language classrooms are available at .
For general and language-specific support and resources to assist teachers deliver quality language programs, refer to . Languages: LF-10 Access a collection of curriculum-aligned, content-rich digital resources to support languages learning at home. Resources include sets of self-directed interactive learning activities, including printable worksheets and learning tools for language teachers to create virtual language classrooms.
The Languages and Multicultural Education Resource Centre (LMERC) provides resources in 40 different languages and includes resources for curriculum development as well as practical classroom materials. Items can be posted to schools in rural areas and renewed by phone or email. For more information, visit .
Approaches to teaching languages
Approaches to teaching languages
This page includes information on the types of languages programs in schools and methods for teaching.
Types of language programs
Language programs are delivered in Victorian schools as:
- separate subject programs
- Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) programs
- bilingual programs
A cultural awareness program that teaches limited vocabulary and language structures and is delivered by a teacher who does not have formal language qualifications is not considered a language program.
A school's approach to languages education will need to ensure pedagogy, curriculum, assessment and reporting are appropriate to the type of program to be provided.
Decisions about the type of program to be provided will be determined by factors such as:
- the purpose of the language program
- availability of qualified language teachers and their particular skills and pedagogical preferences
- professional development available to support particular approaches
- the timelines required to implement particular approaches
- whether the school will provide a program on its own or work in a cluster
- the availability of technology including virtual conferencing facilities to support the program
- the availability of other resources including assistants to support the program
Languages taught as a separate subject
Traditionally languages are taught as a separate subject, particularly in secondary schools. These programs focus on the teaching and learning of the target language and understanding the connections between language and culture.
Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
CLIL programs combine teaching content from a curriculum area with the explicit teaching of the target language. There is a focus on the vocabulary and structures required for the additional curriculum area. Content may include all or part of one or more curriculum areas.
In a CLIL program, learners gain knowledge of the curricular subject (for example, Science) while simultaneously learning and using the target language (for example, Italian). CLIL has the advantage of addressing the 'crowded curriculum' issue as it enables one or more curriculum areas to be taught in and through an additional language, and thereby extends the time on task for language learning.
Schools may choose to teach CLIL units or modules rather than an entire CLIL program. However, there are important factors which need to be considered before a school commits to the introduction of a CLIL program. These include:
- the availability of qualified language teaching staff with the required content knowledge, knowledge of the CLIL approach and the appropriate level of competence in the target language
- the need for collaboration with mainstream and subject teachers to teach the target language through a subject area
- ensuring students can also understand the key terms and concepts in content areas in English
- the need to manage parental perceptions (that subject knowledge will be not be compromised, or that students won't embrace this type of teaching), see Promotional brochure for
- the resources and potential timetabling changes required to implement a CLIL program (including curriculum planning time)
CLIL case studies
The following digital stories have captured 4 Victorian schools that are offering CLIL:
The MLTAV CLIL Language Teachers' Network is a Professional Learning Community which has been created with the support of the Department to support and inform educators new to or in the process of implementing CLIL. The network site provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions about CLIL, advice on implementation and links to useful resources. Refer to:
Designated bilingual programs
Bilingual education utilises two languages as means of instruction for students, providing them with the opportunity to learn curriculum content in, and through, both English and a target language. Eleven government primary schools are provided with additional funding as part of the Designated Bilingual Program to offer a partial immersion bilingual education, where students are immersed into a classroom in which the curriculum is taught for between a minimum of 30% and 50% in the target language. Schools in the Designated Bilingual Program offer strong models of bilingual education, leading to biliteracy learning in students that demonstrate high levels of sociocultural, linguistic, academic and cognitive outcomes. Language teachers who offer bilingual education are suitably qualified teachers with native or near native level of language proficiency able to deliver the Victorian curriculum in the target language.
Government schools offering bilingual programs in Victoria are:
- — Chinese
- — Auslan
- — German
- — Italian
- — French
- — Japanese
- — Italian
- — Japanese
- — Japanese
- — Greek and Macedonian
- — Spanish
- — Chinese and Vietnamese
Languages learning is developmental — new learning is built on students' existing knowledge and understanding.
Quality languages teaching encompasses a range of approaches to:
- develop and extend student capacity to communicate in the target language, across all four dimensions of reading, writing, speaking and listening
- develop and extend intercultural understanding
- develop understanding of and respect for diversity and an openness to different perspectives
- nurture reflective, creative and critical thinking
- enhance intellectual and analytical capabilities
The Department recommends that a language program is:
- a language acquisition program — while the long-term aim of the program is to develop proficiency in the target language, learners have regular opportunities to practise in a supportive environment where fluency rather than accuracy is the initial aim
- literacy-based — learners acquire an understanding of the grammar, word and sentence construction, phonology, as well as an extensive vocabulary in the target language
- personalised and scaffolded — the learner's first language literacy is acknowledged and taken into account so that pedagogy, curriculum and learning environments meet the needs of individual learners
- blended — combines face-to-face classroom methods with mobile and online learning
- cognitively demanding — learners have the opportunity to apply higher-order reasoning and thinking skills and engage with age-appropriate content
- authentic and contextualised — language is used in meaningful contexts for authentic purposes
- engaging — learners play an active role in their own learning
Victorian language classes in action
A range of innovative, whole-school approaches to the provision of high quality and sustainable Languages programs are implemented by government primary and secondary schools, including:
Curriculum, assessment and reporting
The 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 practice 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. For information about student reporting, refer to .
Virtual conferencing, where 2 or more people or groups can see each other using a network or internet video connection, can be used for:
- sharing teachers across schools when face-to-face access to qualified languages teachers is limited
- networking and co-developing language curriculum
- accessing professional development
- classes working on collaborative language projects across schools or around the globe
- connecting individuals or groups with native speakers or other learners across schools or around the globe
Resources and digital stories on using virtual conferencing to deliver language programs:
Complementary language providers
Complementary language providers
Out-of-school-hours programs offering language teaching at F-10 levels for students who cannot access the language of their choice in their mainstream school. F-10 language studies offered by complementary providers outside school hours do not replace mainstream school language provision and offerings during the week. A number of complementary language providers are also registered as a VCE single study language provider. Students can access VCE language studies through these providers.
Victorian School of Languages (VSL)
The is a specialist government school that offers language programs in over 50 languages to students from year 1 to year 12 who do not have access to the study of those languages in their mainstream schools.
The VSL offers:
Face to face classes
Face to face classes are offered in over 40 VSL centres throughout the metropolitan area and regional Victoria. These classes are held mainly on Saturday mornings. Some classes are run on weekday evenings. For more information, including enrolment criteria, visit .
Applied Language Programs
The VSL is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), through the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), which is able to deliver the following nationally recognised Vocational Education and Training (VET) certificate courses:
- Certificate II in Applied Language
- Certificate III in Applied Language
- VET programs in Chinese, French and Spanish
- VETiS — VET in Schools Programs
Community Language Schools (CLS)
Promote learning a language
Promote learning a language
This page includes materials to promote learning a language to students and the community.
Language video testimonials
Ideas for using the resource
School leadership teams and members of staff to:
- build awareness among community, staff and students of the need to develop language skills
- highlight the importance of providing quality languages education programs to all students.
Language teachers to:
- highlight the benefits of language learning including for example at the end of the year when students are deciding whether or not to continue with their language study.
Students and their parents to:
- raise awareness on the importance of intercultural and language competency
- promote the benefits of language learning including broadening career opportunities
- highlight the school's language program at information night and other events.
The Language Video Testimonials were developed by the Department of Education and Training in partnership with the Modern Language Teachers' Association of Victoria.
The benefits of language learning
The following information has been designed for school communities to understand the benefits of language learning and to support the quality of language programs:
- : a fact sheet for schools outlining the benefits in brain development that learning additional languages brings for children in kindergarten and early primary school.
- : a fact sheet for school outlining the career, cultural and travel benefits for students studying languages in secondary school.
- : a fact sheet with advice for schools and teachers on continuing to build the quality and effectiveness of languages programs.
- : a webpage for parents outlining the reasons it is important that young people maintain their home language.
For articles based on research about learning languages, refer to:
BBC News Health — 9 October 2013. The brain has a critical window for language development between the ages of 2 and 4, brain scans suggest.
Psych Central — 11 September 2013. Researchers are learning that the benefits of being bilingual extend well beyond enhanced communication capabilities.
Huffington Post — 11 September 2013. Language shapes the way we think. At a more fundamental level, language might physically alter your mind.
Science World Report — 31 August 2013. The age at which children learn a new language can have a significant impact on the adult brain structure.
Science World Report — 29 August 2013. Learning a language can be an excellent way to open a child up to another world, especially at a young age when introducing new information can be critical to forming syllabus and language structure.
The Guardian — 28 August 2013. A group of high-profile linguists reveal the impact languages have had on their lives and what sparked their passion for learning languages.
Huffington Post — 13 June 2013. Language learning improves our brain's ability to focus, reshapes the way we think and gives us a new way to see the world.
Huffington Post Canada — 4 February 2012. Being bilingual helps you earn more income, have a more flexible mindset and may delay the onset of Alzheimer's Disease.
In December 2017, 40 languages education leaders, policy makers, researchers and practitioners from 30 countries were invited to participate in a seminar to explore the transformation of languages policy to meet 21st century needs in an increasingly globalised world, and to draft the Salzburg Statement for a Multilingual World.
Language learning pamphlets
These research-based pamphlets provide information for school communities about the value of language learning.
Benefits of learning a language
Quality languages programs will be more successful with community support based on a common understanding of the reason for the inclusion of languages as core curriculum, and the many benefits for students. Communicating the benefits is an important step in gaining parent and community support for your languages program.
Learning a language:
- develops an understanding of how languages work which leads to improved literacy skills, including English literacy
- helps students develop critical thinking, analysis and problem solving skills
- teaches students about other peoples, their ideas and ways of thinking
- inspires interest in and respect for other cultures
- enhances employment and career prospects
- contributes to social cohesiveness through better communication and understanding
- contributes to economic, diplomatic and strategic development
Languages data and research
Languages data and research
This page provides links to languages reports containing data analysis of languages programs in Victorian government schools and research in the area of languages education.
The languages reports contain data analysis of languages education in Victorian government schools. These reports are based on information collected via the annual schools census conducted in August.
Archived copies of languages reports
(2014) — This report is part of the Australian Government’s efforts to revive the teaching of languages to ensure that at least 40% of Year 12 students study a language in addition to English within a decade. Its purpose is to inform all Australian governments on practical, implementable ways to enable this.
(2013) — An evaluation of the CLIL approach to teaching Languages in Victorian schools commissioned by the Department in 2011. The report includes findings from surveys of parent, student and staff attitudes, and case studies of the 6 participating schools.
(2012) — An evaluation of an 18 month initiative funded by the Department in 2011 and 2012 to support clusters of schools to pilot locally developed collaborative projects to strengthen the quality of language programs.
(2012) — A report to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs on, inter alia, the benefits of giving attention and recognition to Indigenous languages.
(2011) — A research report outlining the benefits of language learning for the individual, community and society. It contains key messages for school leaders, teachers, parents, students and the broader community about the importance of languages learning and what makes an ‘excellent’ language program.
The Impact of Web 2.0 Technologies in Asian Languages Classroom was an ICT Professional Learning Project led by the Department as part of the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP). It aimed to increase the proficiency of teachers in using Web 2.0 technologies in Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian languages classes. Two evaluation reports are available:
The following reports and papers provide evidence about the benefits of learning languages:
For an information resource on school reviews against the minimum standards, including evidence requirements and compliance examples for language education, refer to:
For an overview of the Languages curriculum refer to:
For learning and teaching resources to support the implementation of the Languages curriculum, refer to:
Reviewed 01 March 2020