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This document reports on the ‘Review of Languages Retention from the Middle Years to the Senior Years of Schooling’ undertaken for the South Australian Department for Education and Child Development by a team of researchers at the Research Centre for Languages and Cultures at the University of South Australia. The Review aimed to determine the factors which may be impacting on students’ languages pathways in secondary education, analyse adverse factors, and consider strategies which may strengthen the participation of greater numbers of students in senior secondary schooling progressing towards the study of languages in the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE).

Following a quick examination of the numbers of students who continue language study to higher levels in South Australian government schools, there is a literature review focussing on what have been reported as enablers for and barriers to retention of students in language programs. We then hear from students and other voices their view of languages retention in South Australian schools. Finally, we discuss the various barriers and enablers which affect student retention that have emerged from the literature and the consultation process.

The review involved consideration of:

  • the cultural, structural, operational and policy impediments and enablers for continuity of language programs beyond the middle years
  • the pedagogies used to deliver language programs that are successful or otherwise in engaging students and leading to improved learning outcomes
  • the role of school leadership in planning, implementing, managing and supervising language programs in secondary schools
  • the attitudes of students to taking languages at the senior secondary level and their perceptions about the relevance of languages to their future, including careers and further study
  • transition pathways and experiences for students moving from primary to secondary language programs
  • the effective use of DECD language centres and the use of technology


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