Evolving English: An update on our new English Language Policy
At Macquarie University we are proud of our diverse cultural and language communities. We are also committed to producing graduates who are effective communicators with discipline-specific knowledge and skills. Achieving this requires students to be skilled in using the English Language.
For a native speaker this may seem easy, however English is constantly evolving, and varies in different contexts. For example, language in disciplines and professions can be used in a particular way (such as ‘derivative’ in finance or mathematics), or can be specific to that discipline (jargon). No matter what their background, all students will encounter unfamiliar language at some point at University, and all students must continually develop their skills to be able to successfully communicate in academic and professional settings.
There are a lot of great resources available across the University for students including self-directed resources, learning skills workshops and programs such as Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) and conversation groups.
One way for students to acquire skills is when they are included within programs. There are many resources for staff in designing materials, in particular two excellent professional development guides How to Embed Discipline-specific Discourse – Learning Through Communication and Developing your students’ English Language proficiency. As language is constantly changing we must ensure we change with it.
In May the Senate Learning and Teaching Committee (SLTC) set up a working party with representatives from across the University to draft a new English Language policy. The policy will outline expectations of both staff and students in actively developing English language skills including the use of academic and discipline-specific discourse.
To draft the policy the working party has reviewed existing policies, resources available across the University, the Australian Qualifications Framework and the DEEWR English Language Standards for Higher Education. Draft copies of the policy, procedure and guideline were distributed last month through Faculty Learning and Teaching Committees for consultation.
The SLTC will meet shortly to discuss comments that have been received so far. If you have any feedback, remember to offer it to your Faculty Learning and Teaching committee or email directly to Antonia Dykes.