Language & Literacy Education

As language and literacy diversity is being emphasised as a vital ingredient of economic, social and educational potential, researchers at UNSW are leading the way in providing a strong research foundation for policy development and curriculum design.

The language and literacy education research group within UNSW’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences investigates best practices, policies and methodologies in the fields of language and literacy learning and teaching within schools and higher education bodies.

The group is unique both nationally and internationally not only because of the calibre of its people and the breadth of its work but also because it focuses on the learning and teaching of second and foreign languages, not just English, and the implications of this for methodology, curriculum design, assessment and evaluation in schools and in adult, community and higher education institutions both locally and internationally.

This is critical at a time when language and literacy diversity in Australia and internationally is being increasingly emphasised as both untapped potential (economic, social, educational) and a major barrier (for geographic mobility and educational achievement).

With recent and current government inquiries into language and literacy education, rising concerns about the declining number of students taking languages other than English and new National Curriculums for schools, Australia urgently requires a strong research foundation. Such knowledge will lay the foundations for best practices, for soundly theorised frameworks around policy decisions and for well-informed critiques of areas of consensus and controversy in mother tongue, second-language and literacy education.

The Impact of our Work

As a team the researchers in the language and literacy group have won over $3 million of grant support including competitive, peer-reviewed research grants, industry grants and faculty level grants.

Our work has included projects funded by the Australian Research Council, the Hong Kong Research Grants Committee, the NSW Department of Education and Training, the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the Global English Corporation, the Hong Kong Education and Manpower Bureau, the Department of Child Safety, the Japan Foundation, the British Council, the Academy of Korean Studies and many more.

The results of our research studies have fed into policies around school curriculum development in English and other languages, as well as English as a second language. We have provided knowledge that has helped advance teacher training, adult education development and teacher evaluation methods. We have assisted education departments in figuring out how best to incentivise teachers, how to plan lessons, how best to approach the education of young students and we have explored the philosophies and psychologies behind the profession of teaching.

Evidence of Excellence

The language and literacy research area both complements and extends UNSW and Arts and Social Sciences’ existing research strengths in the area of social policy, government and health policy and is a key contributor to UNSW’s recognised strength in specialist studies in education.

Our researchers have produced over 75 international refereed journal articles, over 60 book chapters and more than 20 books by leading publishers. Collectively, this group has also won nine ARC-equivalent grants, 18 industry and nine faculty level grants.

Members of this UNSW research area sit on a range of editorial boards of leading international refereed journals such as Language Awareness (UK) and the University of Valencia Press (Spain), edit key journals and handbooks in the education arena such as the 1200 page, two-volume The International Handbook on English Language Teaching, and hold significant leadership positions on national and international advisory committees and professional associations.

Such associations and committees include the Japanese Studies Association of Australia, the Extensive Reading Foundation, TESOL International, Association International de Linguistique Applique, English Language Institute of Singapore, ACARA Working Party on English Language Proficiency, Australian Council of Deans of Education, NSW Teacher Education Council and many more.

Our researchers have also hosted and been invited to present keynotes at hundreds of local and international conferences and have hosted professional workshops around the globe.