Years 7 and 8 Band Description
The nature of the learners
Learners are beginning their study of Auslan and typically have had little prior exposure to the language or to the Deaf community. Many will have learnt an additional language in primary school, and some have proficiency in different home languages, and consequently bring existing language learning strategies and intercultural awareness to the new experience of learning Auslan.
Skills in analysing, comparing and reflecting on language and culture in both English and Auslan are mutually supportive. The transition to secondary schooling involves social and academic demands that coincide with a period of maturational and physical change. Learners are adjusting to a new school culture with sharper divisions between curriculum areas. They may need encouragement to take risks in learning a new language at this stage of social development; and to consider how the experience impacts on the sense of ‘norms’ associated with their first language and culture.
Auslan learning and use
Learners are encouraged to watch and sign Auslan in a range of interactions with the teacher and with each other. They use the language for interactions and transactions, for practising language forms, for developing cultural knowledge and for intercultural exchange. Rich and varied language input characterises this first level of learning, supported by the use of gestures, vocal and facial expression and concrete materials. Learners respond with a mix of Auslan and conventional and unconventional gestures and fingerspelling, as they use all available resources to make meaning and to express themselves.
Learners in this band engage in a range of activities in Auslan and share ideas about the language. They use well-known phrases in Auslan to participate in classroom routines, presentations and structured conversations with their teacher and their peers.
They build vocabulary for thinking and talking about school and personal topics. Language used in routine activities is re-used and reinforced from lesson to lesson in different situations, making connections between what has been learnt and what is to be learnt. Learners follow instructions, watch stories and participate in creating short texts on topics relevant to their interests and enjoyment, such as family, friends, favourite activities or food. They recount experiences, interact with visitors, follow directions, negotiate roles in a group and retell important information.
As they adjust language use to suit different purposes, contexts and situations, learners notice how culture shapes language. They work collaboratively and independently. They focus on the different systems that structure language use, such as sign modification, clause and text structure, and vocabulary, and reflect on their experience as Auslan learners and users. They gradually build a vocabulary and grammatical base that allows them to compose and present different kinds of simple texts.
Contexts of interaction
The Auslan classroom and interactions with deaf peers or adults in their school or local environment are the primary contexts for language and culture experiences. Learners also have some access to the wider Deaf community and to various resources through virtual and digital technology. The familiarity and routine dimension of the classroom context provide scaffolding and opportunities for language practice and experimentation. Language development and use are incorporated into structured collaborative and interactive learning experiences, games and activities.
Texts and resources
Learners work with a range of published texts designed for language learning, such as videos or websites, as well as teacher-generated materials. Authentic texts from different sources provide opportunities for discussion and analysis of the relationship between communication and culture. Learners become familiar with ways of recording Auslan, through either film, photos of signs, line drawings of signs or simple symbols.
Features of Auslan use
Learners in Years 7 and 8 are able to produce all handshapes, movements and locations of single signs. They can independently produce simple positive and negative statements with some time marking, and use plain verbs, indicating verbs modified for present referents and simple and familiar depicting verbs. They describe familiar objects, animals or people using lexical adjectives and some SASS depicting signs. They depict the movement of people, animals and means of transport, using an appropriate classifier handshape in a depicting sign. They explore the expression of emotions through NMFs, and begin to use NMFs for grammatical purposes in modelled language. They use simple constructed action and handling depicting signs to show the characteristics and actions of an animal or a person. They learn that verbs can be modified spatially to express relationships with participants, and that space is used meaningfully in Auslan.
As learners learn to adjust their language to suit different purposes and situations, they begin to understand how culture shapes language use. They compare how they feel when they use different languages and how they view different languages and people who use them. This introduction to the meta dimension of intercultural learning develops the ability to ‘decentre’, to consider different perspectives and ways of being and to become aware of themselves as communicators and cultural participants.
Level of support
Learning at this level is supported by rich and varied language input and by the provision of experiences that are challenging but achievable. Support includes scaffolding, modelling and monitoring; frequent revision; and explicit instruction, description, and comparison of Auslan and English. Teachers model language use and examples of texts, and provide feedback and review student work to support the interactive process of learning. Learning experiences incorporate implicit and explicit form-focused language learning activities and examples of texts and tasks. Learners are given support and opportunities to practise using dictionaries, especially Signbank, and to access word charts, vocabulary lists and examples when translating and creating texts. Support is also provided through visual and tactile materials, such as pictures, objects and charts, and through the use of conventional gestures. Learners rely on modelled language and scaffolded tasks to create their own texts, for example, choosing signs to complete sentences or using pictures to sequence a story that has been told to them.
The role of English
Learners are encouraged to use Auslan whenever possible, with the teacher providing rich and supported language input. Auslan is used for classroom routines and language learning tasks and may be used as the language of instruction for learning content of other learning areas. The language of response varies according to task demands, with Auslan used primarily for communicating in structured and supported tasks.
English is used as a medium of instruction and for explanation and discussion, or in areas from the Understanding strand. This allows learners to talk about differences and similarities they notice between Auslan and their first language(s) and culture(s), to ask questions about language and culture, to consider how they feel when they see or use Auslan and how they view different languages and the people who speak them. This introduction to the meta dimension of intercultural learning develops the ability to consider different perspectives and ways of being. English may also be used to research cultural issues where the source text is not available in Auslan.