Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, Vol 35, No 2 (2012)

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‘WHY DIDN’T THEY TEACH US ANY OF THIS BEFORE?’: YOUTH APPRAISAL OF TURKISH PROVISION IN VICTORIA

Zeynep F. Beykont

Abstract


This article examines youth assessment of the quality and success of languages provision. The discussion draws on data collected from students and graduates of Victoria’s 16 secondary Turkish programs in large-scale surveys (n=858) and follow-up interviews (n=177). Surveys revealed thatupper secondary Turkish classrooms serve predominantly Australian-born Turkish students. Nine out of ten respondents rated their English language and literacy skills considerably higher than Turkish despite regular Turkish exposure beyond school, an average of four years of Turkish study, and apositive orientation toward Turkish maintenance in Australia. Thematic interview analyses indicated that informants found classes beneficial in expanding contexts and purposes of Turkish use, improving Turkish fluency and understanding, broadening cultural knowledge, deepening communication with family, creating a sense of belonging to the larger Turkish community, and helping students prepare for the comprehensive language exam. Across all sites, student motivation and learning were adversely affected by increasingly heterogeneous class composition and a lack of acohesive Turkish-as-a-second-language curriculum. Youth recommendations included redesigning the curriculum to teach Turkish language and literacy skills systematically, emphasizing literacy development throughout the program, parallel teaching of Turkish and English writing styles,enhancing professional development, improving school outreach, and establishing prerequisites to prolong student participation.

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