Pedagogical language knowledge: preparing Australian pre-service teachers to support English language learners

Sue Ollerhead*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In Australia all initial teacher education (ITE) programmes are required to address the needs of students learning in and through English as an additional language (EAL) as a national priority area, including “effective teaching and learning strategies for teaching second language learners in the context of the mainstream classroom and the range of key learning areas.” However, research into the complex language and literacy challenges faced by EAL learners suggests that many mainstream secondary school teachers feel inadequately prepared to meet their needs. To address this issue, Hammond (2014, p. 503) calls for “more wide-ranging, theoretically robust accounts of teacher learning” to support EAL/D learners in particular. This paper presents research conducted as part of a broader investigation into the various components of teacher learning made available to Australian pre-service teachers (PSTs) in an undergraduate teacher education programme, and the relative ways in which they contributed to PSTs’ developing knowledge of language and literacy pedagogy. In particular, it reports on the specific type of knowledge made available to a smaller group of PSTs who participated in a literacy tutoring programme conducted at a secondary school with a large EAL student population. The study yields a rich description of the PSTs’ developing pedagogical language knowledge as they engage in professional learning under the guidance of an academic mentor. It charts their emerging and developing knowledge as they are trained to analyse core curriculum content for opportunities to provide targeted language and literacy support, as well as their growing understanding of the diversity of language and literacy needs of EAL learners. Furthermore, the study describes PSTs’ evolving self-reflection as they become “apprenticed” into the role of professional teachers who assume responsibility for their students’ language and literacy development as a key way of facilitating their access to curriculum content knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-266
Number of pages11
JournalAsia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • EAL
  • language and literacy
  • pedagogical language knowledge
  • pre-service teachers


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