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EDLA167 Linguistics for Literacy

Unit rationale, description and aim

Being able to read and write is critical to young people’s success in education and the workplace.

In this unit, pre-service teachers examine typical language development and language variations, with particular attention to typical and atypical phonological development, and lexical and semantic development. Pre-service teachers also examine aspects of language development in bidialectal and multilingual contexts, the different features of oral and written language, and the reciprocal relationship between oral language/vocabulary knowledge and the development of literacy. They are introduced to how children learn to read and write words and to comprehend longer texts, and examine how the English writing system works and how phonemes, morphemes and history of the language are represented in this system. Pre-service teachers will develop awareness of phonemes, graphemes, and morphemes, and examine why phonics is important in moving children from pre-readers to readers, why spelling is a crucial element of teaching writing, and how spelling differs from and supports reading acquisition. Finally, language and reading comprehension are introduced as multi-componential constructs, and the roles of word reading ability, reading fluency, vocabulary and oral language ability in reading comprehension are highlighted.

The aim of this unit is to provide pre-service teachers with the foundational understanding of language and literacy concepts and developmental and learning processes that are necessary for learning to teach and assess literacy skills.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Identify, describe and evaluate students’ language development, with reference to theories (APST 1.1, 1.2, 5.4; ACECQA A2, A5, B4, E2)GC1, GC2, GC7, GC9, GC11
LO2Apply knowledge of how children learn to read and write to analyse instructional techniques and resources that are used in early childhood settings and schools (APST 1.1, 1.2, 5.1; ACECQA A2, B4)GC1, GC2, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO3Apply knowledge of phonology, morphology, phonemic awareness, phonics, and oral language to analyse oral and written language (APST 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 3.6; ACECQA A2, B4)GC1, GC2, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO4Apply literacy and language knowledge and understanding to demonstrate personal literacy skills and the ability to adjust their use for different audiences and purposes (APST 6.4; ACECQA A2, F3)GC1, GC2, GC3, GC4, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11


On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should be able to:

1.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.

1.2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.

1.4 Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.

3.6 Demonstrate broad knowledge of strategies that can be used to evaluate teaching programs to improve student learning.

5.1 Demonstrate understanding of assessment strategies, including informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative approaches to assess student learning.

5.4 Demonstrate the capacity to interpret student assessment data to evaluate student learning and modify teaching practice.

6.4 Demonstrate an understanding of the rationale for continued professional learning and the implications for improved student learnings.

ACECQA Curriculum Specifications

On successful completion of this unit, pre-service teachers should have developed the following specific knowledge:

A. Child development and care

A2   language development

A5   early intervention

B. Education and curriculum studies 

B4   language and literacy

E. History and philosophy of early childhood

E2   contemporary theories and practice

F. Early childhood professional practice

F3   professional identity and development


Topics will include:


  • Understanding language: Grammar, vocabulary, morphology, phonology, and orthography
  • Oral language and vocabulary development
  • Differences between written and oral language
  • How children learn to read and write
  • How language comprehension develops
  • Language differences and literacy development
  • Australian Aboriginal English
  • English as an Additional Language 



  • Analysis of phonological, phonemic, morphological, and graphemic features of words
  • Analysis of grammatical, lexical, and phonological features in a range of spoken and written texts
  • Application of knowledge of language and literacy development to assess suitability of texts, learning materials, and learning tasks

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

The learning and teaching strategy for this unit is based on providing pre-service teachers with examples of explicit teaching approaches that are supported by research evidence, and that they can implement in their own literacy classrooms. 

In line with the chosen learning and teaching strategy, this unit includes frequent reviews of previous learning, explicit delivery of new content, worked examples, guided and independent practice, and frequent feedback. Once the knowledge is consolidated, it will be applied to analysing and designing learning tasks in order to develop analytical and evaluation skills. The learning and teaching strategy is achieved through a range of learning activities such as reading, reflection, discussion, and engagement with webinars, podcasts and video resources.

This is a 10-credit point unit. It has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, pre-service teachers will engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. This includes regular attendance and participation in tutorials.

The unit is hosted on a Learning Management System (LMS) site with resources and online links, announcements, and a discussion board to post questions and reflections that promote connection between content and educational experiences.


Mode of delivery: This unit may be offered in different modes to cater to the learning needs and preferences of a range of participants.

On Campus

Most learning activities or classes are delivered at a scheduled time, on campus, to enable in-person interactions. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.


Learning activities are delivered through a planned mix of online and in-person classes, which may include full-day sessions and/or placements, to enable interaction. Activities that require attendance will appear in a student’s timetable.

Online unscheduled

Learning activities are accessible anytime, anywhere. These units are normally delivered fully online and will not appear in a student’s timetable. 

Online scheduled

All learning activities are held online, at scheduled times, and will require some attendance to enable online interaction. Activities will appear in a student’s timetable.

ACU Online 

In ACU Online mode, this unit is delivered asynchronously, fully online using an active, guided learning approach. Pre-service teachers are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions and receive regular and timely feedback on their learning.  

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment tasks and their weightings allow pre-service teachers to progressively demonstrate consolidation of knowledge and achievement against the course learning outcomes by demonstrating academic and professional standards. The Foundations of Literacy unit will build the foundational knowledge and skills regarding oral and written language learning and development that are required to meet expectations of the Graduate Attributes and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Graduate level.

Assessment Task 1 focuses on the knowledge required to understand children’s oral language development. Assessment Task 2 focuses on students’ ability to analyse linguistic features of written texts. Assessment Task 3, the examination, assesses pre-service teachers’ application of knowledge and understanding of literacy and language (i.e. grammar, vocabulary, comprehension, phonology).

The three assessment tasks are sequenced to allow feedback and progressive development of content knowledge and skills to prepare pre-service teachers for pedagogical knowledge units EDEN290 and EDEN291.

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate the achievement of each learning outcome. In order to pass this unit, pre-service teachers are required to complete ALL assessment tasks and achieve an overall Pass grade overall. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1: Module quizzes

Students will complete a short quiz at the end of each module assessing their consolidation of the content presented in lectures and reading.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Assessment Task 2: Analysis of Texts

Students will analyse a sample of instructional texts and assessment materials for their features and suitability for students at different year levels.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Assessment Task 3: Examination

2-hour examination: Application of knowledge and understanding of literacy and language  


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Representative texts and references

Brown, A. (2014). Pronunciation and phonetics: A practical guide for English language teachers. Routledge.

Carlisle, J.F., & Kearns, D.M. (2017). Learning to read morphologically complex words. In K. Cain, D.L. Compton, & R.K. Parrila (Eds.), Theories of reading development (pp. 191–214). John Benjamins.

Honig, B., Diamond L., & Gutlohn, L. (2018). Teaching reading sourcebook (3rd ed.). CORE.

McLeod, S., & McCormack, J. (2015). An introduction to speech, language and literacy. Oxford University Press.

Nation, K. (2019). Children’s reading difficulties, language, and reflections on the Simple View of Reading. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 24, 47-73. doi: 10.1080/19404158.2019.1609272

Nation, K., Dawson, N. J., & Hsiao, Y. (2022). Book Language and Its Implications for Children’s Language, Literacy, and Development. Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Owens, R.E. (2020). Language development: An introduction, Global edition. (9th ed). Pearson Education

Paramour, Z., & Paramour, T. (2020). The grammar book: Understanding and teaching primary grammar. Bloomsbury

Peregoy, S. F., Boyle, O. F., & Amendum, S. (2022) Reading, writing and learning in ESL: A resource book for teaching K-12 English learners (8th ed). Pearson.

Snowling, M., Hulme, C. & Nation, K. (2022). The science of reading: A handbook. (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Stuart, M., & Stainthorp, R. (2016). Reading development and teaching. Sage. 

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