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What is the nature of learning activities in English?


Learning activities are events that engage students in culturally relevant interactions. While they are generally planned in advance, the need for some may arise incidentally in the context of other activities.

Learning activities provide worthwhile experiences that build upon and extend students' use and knowledge of English. They are determined in part by Syllabus requirements and in part by assessment information available for the groups of students and individuals involved.

In English programs, some learning activities mirror the genres of the local and wider community. Other activities introduce genres that are commonly used in other contexts. Activities therefore have a clear social purpose, taking into account what students have learned in the past, what they can learn in the present situation, and what they may feasibly learn in the future.

Through literary genres in prose, verse and drama, students develop abilities to entertain and move others and to be entertained and moved by others. Through non-literary genres, students develop abilities in negotiation, directions, reports, analyses and persuasion.

Some activities provide opportunities for students to think, speak, listen, write, read and view in natural contexts that involve genuine social purposes for using language. Students undertake real challenges and solve real problems.

Other activities provide imaginative opportunities for students to think, speak, listen, write, read and view in simulated or dramatic contexts that attempt to represent those in real life. The language they use should be as close as possible to that used in comparable real social contexts.

Learning activities assist students to gain knowledge and skills identified as necessary for their effective participation in Australian society and for their continued growth and development. They extend students' interests and abilities while responding to identified learning needs.

These learning activities require students to construct meaning with spoken, written, visual, nonverbal and auditory language features. Purposeful activities build on knowledge and skills that are familiar to students, helping them develop new knowledge and skills about language and its use.

A learning activity emphasises one aspect of language structure, of language learning, or the way language is used in any one learning situation. It is essential to assist students to focus on one aspect at a time. By doing so, they learn to unravel and understand the complex, dynamic nature of language. With study and reflection, they come to see the many variables of language and its use.

[Source: Queensland English Syllabus for Years 1 to 10   Dept of Education, Queensland, 1994]
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