The Victorian School of Languages as a model for heritage language education

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HL education often has an ambivalent relationship with mainstream schools. While volunteer-run HL schools often struggle with curriculum, resourcing, and teacher quality issues, it can be difficult for mainstream schools to teach HLs in normal school hours if there are not large numbers of speakers of the same HL in each year level. The Victorian School of Languages offers a potential hybrid model to address some of these issues. This government-run school provides after-hours classes in 49 languages across 40 sites to more than 15,500 students, many of whom are HL speakers. This chapter gives a brief overview of the school’s development and structure before exploring the degree to
which this model is able to capitalize on the best bits of both volunteerrun
and mainstream HL classes. It argues that the model has a range of benefits over volunteer-run classes, many of which flow from the increased administrative support and professionalization that comes with being an official government school. However, it is not a panacea and a number of issues remain around resourcing, curriculum, and teacher professional development. Integration with the government school system also results in some loss of autonomy and
means the political clout of language communities can play a role in determining whose languages are taught in what contexts. Despite these potential problems, the Victorian School of Languages provides a useful model that could be followed in other contexts where communities are looking to integrate their HL teaching more fulsomely into mainstream schooling.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Research and Practice in Heritage Language Education
EditorsPeter Pericles Trifonas, Themistoklis Aravossitas
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9783319446943
ISBN (Print)9783319446929
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameSpringer International Handbooks of Education


  • Community language schools (CLS)
  • Heritage language (HL) education VSL
  • Victorian school of languages (VSL)
  • Language other than English (LOTE)
  • State-sponsored curriculum
  • Victorian certificate of education (VCE)
  • Victorian curriculum and assessment authority (VCAA)

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