The Good Practice Principles: Silver bullet or starter gun?
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The Good Practice Principles have provided the higher education sector with a framework for action in the area of academic language and learning (ALL); and the imprimatur of DEEWR has ensured that they have been nationally disseminated and are now widely recognised. Yet, while they have been nationally acknowledged as appropriate and desirable, the means by which they might be achieved is by no means certain. In order to realise these principles, ALL educators and colleagues in Australian institutions must grapple with major issues that arise chronologically over students’ academic careers. These issues include: how can we know whether students have sufficient English language proficiency to participate effectively in their academic studies, how can we best help them to develop their language use in an academic context, and how can we know that they are sufficiently proficient for graduate employment? By systematically addressing these issues, universities will be more able to achieve greater parity in participation, progression and professional outcomes for all students. The Good Practice Principles, while not a silver bullet in ensuring equity, can nevertheless serve as a useful launching point for discussions aimed at substantive change. Indeed, they served as a starter gun for an AALL-sponsored symposium in January 2011 in Perth. This paper draws on symposium themes and discusses their relevance in the broader Australian context.
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