Learner background and time-on-task are two major variables that influence language learning and they provide the basis for the structure of the Australian Curriculum: Languages. These variables are addressed through the specification of content and the description of achievement standards according to pathways and learning sequences respectively.


In the Australian Curriculum: Languages, pathways for second language learners, background language learners and first language learners have been developed as appropriate to cater for the dominant group(s) of students learning each specific language within the current Australian context. For the majority of languages, one curriculum pathway has been developed for Years F–10, catering for the dominant cohort of learners for that language in the current Australian context. For Chinese, pathways have been developed for three learner groups: first language learners, background language learners and second language learners.

The Framework for Aboriginal languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages includes three learner pathways:

  • first language learner pathway
  • revival language learner pathway
  • second language learner pathway.

Sequences of learning

The design of the Australian Curriculum: Languages takes account of different entry points into language learning across Foundation – Year 10, which reflects current practice in languages.

For the second language learner pathway and the background language learner pathway, there are two learning sequences:

  • Foundation–Year 10 sequence
  • Years 7–10 (Year 7 Entry) sequence.

For the first language learner pathway, there is one learning sequence:

  • Years 7–10 (Year 7 Entry) sequence.

Content and achievement standards are described initially in a three-year band for Foundation–Year 2 followed by two-year bands of learning: Years 3–4; Years 5–6, Years 7–8 and Years 9–10.

The Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages is written in the bands Foundation – Year 2, Years 3–6 and Years 7–10. In the absence of pedagogical evidence across the country for all these languages, the broader band distinctions provide maximum local flexibility in curriculum development.

Content structure

The content of the Australian Curriculum: Languages is organised through two interrelated strands which realise the three aims. The two strands are:

  • Communicating: using language for communicative purposes in interpreting, creating and exchanging meaning
  • Understanding: analysing language and culture as a resource for interpreting and creating meaning.

The strands reflect three important aspects of language learning:

1)    communication

2)    analysis of aspects of language and culture

3)    reflection that involves

  1. reflection on the experience of communicating
  2. reflection on comparative dimensions of the languages available in students’ repertoires (for example, the first language in relation to second language and self in relation to others).

Strands and sub-strands

A set of sub-strands has been identified within each strand, which reflects dimensions of language use and the related content to be taught and learned. The strands and sub-strands do not operate in isolation but are integrated in relation to language use for different purposes in different contexts. The relative contribution of each sub-strand differs for described languages, pathways and bands of learning. The sub-strands are further differentiated according to a set of ‘threads’ that support the internal organisation of content in each sub-strand. These ‘threads’ are designed to capture (1) range and variety in the scope of learning and (2) a means for expressing the progression of content across the learning sequences. 

Diagram 1: Relationship between strands and sub-strands

The following table provides a brief description of each of the strands and sub-strands.

Strand Sub-strand Description
Using language for communicative purposes in interpreting, creating and exchanging meaning.
1.1 Socialising Interacting orally and in writing to exchange, ideas, opinions, experiences, thoughts and feelings; and participating in planning, negotiating, deciding and taking action.
1.2 Informing Obtaining, processing, interpreting and conveying information through a range of oral, written and multimodal texts; developing and applying knowledge.
1.3 Creating Engaging with imaginative experience by participating in, responding to and creating a range of texts, such as stories, songs, drama and music.
1.4 Translating Moving between languages and cultures orally and in writing, recognising different interpretations and explaining these to others.
1.5 Reflecting Participating in intercultural exchange, questioning reactions and assumptions; and considering how interaction shapes communication and identity.
Analysing and understanding language and culture as resources for interpreting and shaping meaning in intercultural exchange.
2.1 Systems of language Understanding language as a system, including sound, writing, grammatical and textual conventions.
2.2 Language variation and change Understanding how languages vary in use (register, style, standard and non-standard varieties) and change over time and place.
2.3 The role of language and culture Analysing and understanding the role of language and culture in the exchange of meaning.