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NSW Curriculum
NSW Education Standards Authority

K–10Aboriginal Languages K–10 (2022) Syllabus

Implementation from 2024

Course overview

Course requirements

Students may commence their study of a language at any point along the K–10 continuum. The study of at least 100 hours in one language in Years 7–10 is a mandatory requirement for eligibility for the award of the Record of School Achievement (RoSA). The mandatory study of 100 hours in one language is to be completed over one continuous 12-month period in Years 7–10, but preferably in Years 7–8.

When students have completed the mandatory 100-hour language study, they may continue the study of that language as an elective for the RoSA and/or choose to study another language.

Satisfactory completion of the mandatory language study will be recorded on the student’s RoSA.

Satisfactory completion of 100 or 200 hours of elective study in a language (or languages) during Stage 5 (Years 9 and 10) will also be recorded with a grade.

Students undertaking a Languages course based on Years 7–10 Life Skills outcomes and content are not allocated a grade.

Course numbers:

  • 200-hour elective: 790
  • 100-hour elective: 791
  • 200-hours Life Skills elective: TBA
  • 100-hours Life Skills elective: TBA

Exclusions: Students may not access Life Skills outcomes and other outcomes from the same subject. 

The Languages

The languages to be studied and assessed are the Aboriginal Languages of Australia, with priority given to the language of Country where the school is located. The term ‘target language’ is used to refer to the Aboriginal Language studied.

In terms of the language ecologies of Australia, the majority of Aboriginal Languages are in revival. These language communities may have some fluent speakers among older generations, but generational transmission has been interrupted within the context of post-invasion language loss. A small number of Aboriginal Languages are considered to be a first language, used as the language of everyday communication across all generations of a whole Community.

To cater for Torres Strait Islander Language learners, a Torres Strait Islander Language can be studied in consultation and with permissions from the local Aboriginal Community and the appropriate Torres Strait Islander Community. Exposure to learning or awareness of the language of Country where the school is located is also recommended.

Students should learn to communicate in the target language, including formal and informal language used in daily life, and an awareness of dialectal and/or regional differences. Students may also learn that the target language has corresponding sign and restricted language.

The learners of Aboriginal Languages

Students come to the learning of languages with diverse linguistic, cultural and personal profiles, including a range of prior language experiences. Students start school as mono-, bi- or plurilingual.

Syllabus content is designed to accommodate the range of student entry points and range of learners, some of whom may have significant prior learning, experience or background in the target language and/or other Aboriginal Languages.

In Kindergarten to Year 6, content is developed for 2 broad student groups:

  • students who are studying the target language as Language Revival learners
  • students who are studying the target language as First Language learners.

In Year 7 to Year 10, content is developed and presented in 3 ways:

  • students who are studying the target language as Language Revival learners
  • students who are studying the target language as First Language learners
  • students undertaking a course based on Life Skills outcomes and content.

Access content points

Access content points have been developed to support students with significant intellectual disability who are working towards Early Stage 1 outcomes.

For each of the Early Stage 1 outcomes, access content points are provided to indicate content that students with significant intellectual disability may access as they work towards the outcomes. Teachers will be able to use the access content points on their own, or in combination with the content for each outcome. If students are able to access outcomes in the syllabus they should not require the access content points.

This is the first time in NSW the K–6 curriculum has included specific content for students with significant intellectual disability.

Life Skills outcomes and content

Some students in Years 7–10 with intellectual disability may find the Life Skills outcomes and content the most appropriate course option. This decision should be made in the context of collaborative curriculum planning and after consideration has been given to other ways of assisting the student to engage with the Stage 4 and/or Stage 5 outcomes, or prior stage outcomes if appropriate. This assistance may include a range of adjustments to teaching, learning and assessment activities.

Organisation of Aboriginal Languages K–10

The diagram (Figure 1) is an overview of the Aboriginal Languages K–10 Syllabus.

Overview of the Aboriginal Languages syllabus, more detail in text below diagram.
Figure 1: Focus areas and content groups for Aboriginal Languages K–10

Image long description: Diagram displays the 5 focus areas of the syllabus and their content groups. The focus area Interacting has 2 content groups: Exchanging information, ideas and opinions; and Socialising, planning and negotiating. The focus area Responding has 2 content groups: Obtaining information; and Processing and responding to information. The focus area Composing has 3 content groups: Spoken, written and/or multimodal texts; Bilingual and/or multilingual texts; and Systems of language. The focus area The role of language, culture and identity has 2 content groups: Exchanging meaning; and Communication and identity. The focus area Language awareness and building has 2 content groups: Language building; and Language ecologies. A line that circles the focus areas and content groups is labelled, ‘Understanding the nature and role of language, including the relationships between Aboriginal Languages, Countries and Cultures’.

Balance of content

The amount of content associated with a given outcome is not necessarily indicative of the amount of time spent engaging with that outcome. Teachers use formative and summative assessment to determine instructional priorities and the time needed for students to achieve expected outcomes.

The content groups are not intended to be hierarchical. They describe in more detail how the outcomes are to be interpreted and used, and the intended learning appropriate for the stage. In considering the intended learning, teachers make decisions about the sequence and emphasis to be given to particular groups of content based on the needs and abilities of their students.

Speaking, listening, reading and writing skills are integral for students who are developing their acquisition of the target language. For some students with disability, teachers will need to consider relevant and appropriate adjustments to speaking, listening, reading, writing and communication experiences within the context of the Aboriginal Languages K–10 Syllabus.

Community consultation

The successful introduction and ongoing implementation of the Aboriginal Languages K–10 Syllabus is underpinned by a firm understanding of key principles and protocols associated with Aboriginal Languages and cultures. NSW schools introducing the Aboriginal Languages K–10 Syllabus will ensure success and sustainability by working in partnership with their local Aboriginal Community. The successful delivery of the Aboriginal Languages K–10 Syllabus and the Aboriginal Languages Stage 6 CEC Syllabus will be dependent on expertise and guidance from local Aboriginal knowledge holders and keepers, custodians and stakeholders to support classroom teachers.

The local Aboriginal Community of the school is an important partner and should be the first contact regarding the introduction of Aboriginal Languages into school-based teaching and learning programs. They are in the best position to provide advice on local protocols. To support implementation of a successful and sustainable Aboriginal Languages program, the local Aboriginal Community will be able to make recommendations regarding Language speakers, tutors, resources and historical contexts.

The protocols for on-Country and off-Country learning of Aboriginal Languages are fundamental to the ongoing maintenance of Aboriginal social and cultural practices in NSW. For content that invites comparison between the target language and another NSW Aboriginal Language or an Aboriginal Language from elsewhere in Australia, the knowledge holders and keepers, custodians, traditional owners and stakeholders of that comparative language will need to be consulted and will need to support their language being studied off-Country. The support of the local Aboriginal Community will also be required.

The syllabus acknowledges the need for appropriate ongoing consultation on the development and implementation of teaching and learning programs in schools. NESA, through the Aboriginal Languages K–10 Syllabus, supports the aspirations of Aboriginal communities to maintain and revitalise their languages and cultures.

For delivery of Aboriginal Languages syllabuses, and for any other units of work with a particular or sustained focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, NSW schools should work in partnership with their local Aboriginal Community to ensure successful and sustainable learning outcomes.

Further advice on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander principles and protocols is available on the NESA website