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NSW Syllabuses

Key language skills for English EAL/D

The key language skills described below provide a focus for language instruction at students' point of need and should be taught in context and where relevant. Students should be given the opportunity to develop and demonstrate these skills in a variety of contexts. This table is not an exhaustive list; rather, it is a guide to focus teachers on some essential skills that students should develop.

Phonological knowledge:

  • phonemic awareness
  • onset and rime, and syllables
  • pronunciation, stress, rhythm, intonation and pitch for emphasis.

Writing conventions:

  • using punctuation as required
  • spelling subject-specific vocabulary correctly
  • using hyphenation, capitalisation and word breaks correctly
  • using subject-specific abbreviations, signs and symbols
  • understanding common logographic signs
  • distinguishing and using print, cursive and diverse fonts.

Language proficiency and fluency:

  • gradually increasing a word bank of vocabulary in English, for example subject-specific vocabulary, lexemes, nominalisations, specialised and technical language, etc
  • understanding and using bound morphemes, including conjugations and tense markers, affixes, and plural and possessive forms correctly
  • understanding and using conventions of form and structure when composing and responding to texts
  • understanding and using metalanguage correctly
  • using discourse markers, for example for showing cause and effect
  • understanding and using common idioms, colloquialisms and slang
  • using synonyms and antonyms as required
  • using lexical chains, referential devices and ellipsis to achieve cohesion
  • choosing vocabulary appropriate to purpose and audience
  • using descriptive, rhetorical and persuasive language
  • understanding and using formulaic and fixed expressions, for example phrasal verbs and collocations
  • understanding proverbs, clichés, catchphrases, slogans and other figures of speech
  • understanding and using correct syntax within clauses and sentences.

Grammatical competence:

  • clause and sentence structure
  • questioning (including rhetorical questioning)
  • parts of speech including nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions and connectives, interjections, articles, numerals and determiners
  • verb forms and tenses
  • modality
  • voice (active, passive)
  • clause type (declarative, interrogative, imperative and exclamative)
  • nominalisation
  • additive, comparative, temporal and consequential conjunctions
  • subject–verb agreement
  • negative questioning
  • direct and indirect speech.

Semantic competence:

  • listening for specific content
  • identifying shifts in meaning according to syntax and aspects of style and register
  • identifying implied meanings in texts
  • predicting meaning and making inferences, for example from context clues
  • identifying ambiguous or inappropriate language usage
  • using the language of appraisal appropriately to express approval and disapproval, engagement, attitudes and evaluations
  • distinguishing between facts and opinions.

Pragmatic competence:

  • questioning for clarification as needed
  • negotiating meaning
  • understanding how language is used to persuade
  • understanding and experimenting with the style and register of texts (tone, language, audience)
  • initiating, sustaining and ending conversations in casual and formal contexts
  • identifying the organisation of thoughts, ideas and rhetorical patterns within texts.

Intercultural communication competence:

  • identifying stylistic and register variations between familiar, semi-formal and formal contexts
  • recognising common cultural references
  • recognising irony and how humour is created
  • using culturally accepted politeness conventions in listening, speaking and written protocols
  • recognising cultural variations in acceptance of novice and expert knowledge
  • responding to and using non-verbal cues appropriately, including culturally appropriate gestures and behaviours
  • understanding cultural differences in eye contact and personal space
  • identifying cultural variations in symbolism, classification and gender behaviours.

© Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 2010 to present, unless otherwise indicated. This material was downloaded from the Australian Curriculum website (accessed 20/06/2016) and was modified. The material is licensed under CC BY 4.0. Version updates are tracked on the Curriculum version history page of the Australian Curriculum website. ACARA does not endorse any product that uses the Australian Curriculum or make any representations as to the quality of such products. Any product that uses material published on this website should not be taken to be affiliated with ACARA or have the sponsorship or approval of ACARA. It is up to each person to make their own assessment of the product, taking into account matters including, but not limited to, the version number and the degree to which the materials align with the content descriptions (where relevant). Where there is a claim of alignment, it is important to check that the materials align with the content descriptions (endorsed by all Education Ministers), not the elaborations (examples provided by ACARA).