Strands, sub-strands and threads

The Australian Curriculum: English Foundation to Year 10 is organised into three interrelated strands that support students' growing understanding and use of Standard Australian English (English). Each strand interacts with and enriches the other strands in creative and flexible ways, the fabric of the curriculum being strengthened by the threads within each sub-strand.

Together, the three strands form an integrating framework of disciplinary knowledge and focus on developing students’ knowledge, understanding and skills in listening, reading, viewing, speaking and writing from Foundation to Year 10. The three strands are:

  • Language: knowing about the English language
  • Literature: understanding, appreciating, responding to, analysing and creating literary texts
  • Literacy: expanding the repertoire of English usage.

Content descriptions in each of the three strands are grouped into sub-strands that, across the year levels, present a sequence of development of knowledge, understanding and skills. The sub-strands are shown in the table below.

Table1: Overview of sub strands and threads in the Australian Curriculum: English (F-10)

Language Literature Literacy
Sub-strands and threads

Language variation and change

  • Language variation and change

Literature and context

  • How texts reflect the context of culture and situation in which they are created

Texts in context

  • Texts and the contexts in which they are used

Language for interaction

  • Language for social interactions
  • Evaluative language

Responding to literature

  • Personal responses to the ideas, characters and viewpoints in texts
  • Expressing preferences and evaluating texts

Interacting with others

  • Listening and speaking interactions (purposes and contexts)
  • Listening and speaking interactions (skills)
  • Oral presentations

Text structure and organisation

  • Purpose audience and structures of different types of texts
  • Text cohesion
  • Punctuation
  • Concepts of print and screen

Examining literature

  • Features of literary texts
  • Language devices in literary texts

Interpreting, analysing and evaluating

  • Purpose and audience
  • Reading processes
  • Comprehension strategies
  • Analysing and evaluating texts

Expressing and developing ideas

  • Sentences and clause level grammar
  • Word level grammar
  • Visual language
  • Vocabulary
  • Spelling

Creating literature

  • Creating literary texts
  • Experimentation and adaptation

Creating texts

  • Creating texts
  • Editing
  • Handwriting
  • Use of software

Phonics and word knowledge

  • Phonological and phonemic awareness
  • Alphabet and phonic knowledge
  • Spelling

Relationship between the strands

Each strand contributes to the study of English its own distinctive goals, body of knowledge, history of ideas and interests, and each relates to material worth studying in its own right. Teaching, learning and assessment programs should balance and integrate the three strands to support the development of knowledge, understanding and skills. The key focal point for a unit of work or a learning activity may arise from any one of the strands, but the intention is that units and activities draw on all three strands in ways that are integrated and clear to learners.

Language strand

In the language strand, students develop their knowledge of the English language and how it works. They learn that changes in English are related to historical developments and the geographical differences of its users over the centuries, and that there are many differences in dialect and accent. They learn how language enables people to interact effectively, to build and maintain relationships and to express and exchange knowledge, skills, attitudes, feelings and opinions. They discover the patterns and purposes of English usage, including spelling, grammar and punctuation at the levels of the word, sentence and extended text, and they study the connections between these levels. By developing a body of knowledge about these patterns and their connections, students learn to communicate effectively through coherent, well-structured sentences and texts. They gain a consistent way of understanding and talking about language, language in use and language as system, so they can reflect on their own speaking and writing and discuss these productively with others. This strand informs the planning and conduct of teaching and learning activities in English and provides resources that connect to key concepts and skills in the other strands.

  • Language variation and change: Students learn that languages and dialects are constantly evolving due to historical, social and cultural changes, demographic movements and technological innovations. They come to understand that these factors, along with new virtual communities and environments, continue to affect the nature and spread of English.
  • Language for interaction: Students learn that the language used by individuals varies according to their social setting and the relationships between the participants. They learn that accents and styles of speech and idiom are part of the creation and expression of personal and social identities.
  • Text structure and organisation: Students learn how texts are structured to achieve particular purposes; how language is used to create texts that are cohesive and coherent; how texts about more specialised topics contain more complex language patterns and features; and how the author guides the reader/viewer through the text through effective use of resources at the level of the whole text, the paragraph and the sentence.
  • Expressing and developing ideas: Students learn how, in a text, effective authors control and use an increasingly differentiated range of clause structures, words and word groups, as well as combinations of sound, image, movement, verbal elements and layout. They learn that the conventions, patterns and generalisations that relate to English spelling involve the origins of words, word endings, Greek and Latin roots, base words and affixes.
  • Phonics and word knowledge: Students develop knowledge about the sounds of English (phonemes) and learn to identify the sounds in spoken words. They learn the letters of the alphabet (graphemes) and how to represent spoken words by using combinations of these letters. They attend to the speech stream and learn that sentences are made up of words, and are introduced to understandings about the complexities and subtleties of learning English. Students learn that patterns and generalisations relate to the spelling of words in English and involve word origins, prefixes and suffixes, visual and meaning strategies. Reading skills are inherently complex, have infinite possibilities for use, and therefore require practice and application when students engage in the receptive modes of communication (listening, reading and viewing) and the productive modes of communication (speaking, writing and creating) not just in English, but across the curriculum. The application of phonemic awareness and phonic knowledge to the development of reading, especially from Foundation to Year 2, is of critical importance.

Literature strand

The literature strand aims to engage students in the study of literary texts of personal, cultural, social and aesthetic value. These texts include some that are recognised as having enduring social and artistic value and some that attract contemporary attention. Texts are chosen because they are judged to have potential for enriching the lives of students, expanding the scope of their experience, and because they represent effective and interesting features of form and style. Learning to appreciate literary texts and to create their own literary texts enriches students’ understanding of human experiences and the capacity for language to deepen those experiences. It builds students’ knowledge about how language can be used for aesthetic ends, to create particular emotional, intellectual or philosophical effects. Students interpret, appreciate, evaluate and create literary texts such as short stories, novels, poetry, prose, plays, film and multimodal texts, in spoken, print and digital/online forms. Texts recognised as having enduring artistic and cultural value are drawn from world and Australian literature. These include the oral narrative traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, texts from Asia, texts from Australia’s immigrant cultures and texts of the students’ choice.

Each year level description in the Australian Curriculum: English Foundation to Year 10 gives information about the nature of texts to be studied including appropriate types of texts and typical linguistic and structural features. Across the years of schooling, students will engage with literary texts in spoken, written and multimodal form, including digital texts, such as narratives, poetry, prose, plays and films.

  • Literature and context: Students learn how ideas and viewpoints about events, issues and characters that are expressed by authors in texts are drawn from and shaped by different historical, social and cultural contexts.
  • Responding to literature: Students learn to identify personal ideas, experiences and opinions about literary texts and discuss them with others. They learn how to recognise areas of agreement and difference, and how to develop and refine their interpretations through discussion and argument.
  • Examining literature: Students learn how to explain and analyse the ways in which stories, characters, settings and experiences are reflected in particular literary genres, and how to discuss the appeal of these genres. They learn how to compare and appraise the ways authors use language and literary techniques and devices to influence readers. They also learn to understand, interpret, discuss and evaluate how certain stylistic choices can create multiple layers of interpretation and effect.
  • Creating literature: Students learn how to use personal knowledge and literary texts as starting points to create imaginative writing in different forms and genres and for particular audiences. Using print, digital and online media, students develop skills that allow them to convey meaning, address significant issues and heighten engagement and impact.

Literacy strand

The literacy strand aims to develop students’ ability to interpret and create texts with appropriateness, accuracy, confidence, fluency and efficacy for learning in and out of school, and for participating in Australian life more generally. Texts chosen include media texts, everyday texts and workplace texts from increasingly complex and unfamiliar settings, ranging from the everyday language of personal experience to more abstract, specialised and technical language, including the language of schooling and academic study. Students learn to adapt language to meet the demands of more general or more specialised purposes, audiences and contexts. They learn about the different ways in which knowledge and opinion are represented and developed in texts, and about how more or less abstraction and complexity can be shown through language and through multimodal representations. This means that print and digital contexts are included, and that listening, speaking, reading, viewing, writing and creating are all developed systematically and concurrently.

  • Texts in context: Students learn that texts from different cultures or historical periods may reveal different patterns in how they go about narrating, informing and persuading.
  • Interacting with others: Students learn how individuals and groups use language patterns to express ideas and key concepts to develop and defend arguments. They learn how to promote a point of view by designing, rehearsing and delivering spoken and written presentations and by appropriately selecting and sequencing linguistic and multimodal elements.
  • Interpreting, analysing, evaluating: Students learn to comprehend what they read and view by applying growing contextual, semantic, grammatical and phonic knowledge. They develop more sophisticated processes for interpreting, analysing, evaluating and critiquing ideas, information and issues from a variety of sources. They explore the ways conventions and structures are used in written, digital, multimedia and cinematic texts to entertain, inform and persuade audiences, and they use their growing knowledge of textual features to explain how texts make an impact on different audiences.
  • Creating texts: Students apply knowledge they have developed in other strands and sub-strands to create with clarity, authority and novelty a range of spoken, written and multimodal texts that entertain, inform and persuade audiences. They do so by strategically selecting key aspects of a topic as well as language, visual and audio features. They learn how to edit for enhanced meaning and effect by refining ideas, reordering sentences, adding or substituting words for clarity, and removing repetition. They develop and consolidate a handwriting style that is legible, fluent and automatic, and that supports sustained writing. They learn to use a range of software programs including word processing software, selecting purposefully from a range of functions to communicate and create clear, effective, informative and innovative texts.

Language modes

The processes of listening, speaking, reading, viewing and writing – also known as language modes – are interrelated, and the learning of one often supports and extends learning of the others. To acknowledge these interrelationships, content descriptions in each strand of the Australian Curriculum: English incorporate the processes of listening, speaking, reading, viewing and writing in an integrated and interdependent way.

Classroom contexts that address particular content descriptions will necessarily draw from more than one of these processes to support students’ effective learning. For example, students will learn new vocabulary through listening and reading and apply their knowledge and understanding in their speaking and writing as well as in their comprehension of spoken and written texts.

Mode icons

Each content description is identified with all relevant language modes through the allocation of the following icons: