Beyond deficit approaches for integrating language, literacy and numeracy in Australian VET

Publisher:
Routledge
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Further and Higher Education, 2013, 37 (4), pp. 574 - 590
Issue Date:
2013-01
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In light of the perceived new significance to the Australian economy of adult language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills, this paper presents a broad picture of how LLN is being integrated in Australian vocational education and training (VET) and, through reference to selected programmes, indicates some future directions. Based on a national environmental scan of LLN providers and in-depth interviews with over 50 VET teachers and managers, we conclude that integrated LLN in Australian VET largely fits a deficit paradigm. In the main, students are assessed at the beginning of their course to identify the LLN skills they lack and then provided with assistance from a specialist LLN teacher, which may be in the form of individual support in a study centre, tuition in a separate LLN programme, or assistance within a team teaching structure in the vocational classroom. We focus mainly on the latter in this paper, explaining that often the LLN teacher assumes a secondary, `hovering role in the vocational classroom, helping primarily those students identified to be `in need of LLN support, while the vocational teacher delivers the vocational content. We provide examples of alternative models of integrated LLN which feature a shared or equal role for the LLN teacher, and we examine these using a theoretical framework developed from the work of Lea and Street (1998, 2006) on academic writing. Based on Lea and Streets work, we refer to these models as: `study skills, `vocational socialisation and `vocational literacies and numeracies.
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