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EDLA167 Linguistics for Literacy

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit focuses on the emergent and early literacy development of children birth to eight years. An explicit focus on the literacy strand of the Australian Curriculum: English and the importance of grapho-phonic relationships, morphology and syntax and the role in early reading pedagogy will be foregrounded. The teaching of writing will be developed through knowledge of text structures, English grammar, drafting and editing processes, and spelling awareness. These approaches include the ability to motivate, develop and extend children’s responses to literary, factual and multimodal texts; to introduce higher-order thinking strategies through critical and analytical tasks appropriate for children in early childhood and the early years of primary school; and to understand graphological and phonological knowledge. Literacy teaching and assessment practices will be developed from this strong basis of understanding current literacy research and will draw on the discipline knowledge developed in previous units. The unit will introduce the notion of teaching and learning as socially embedded, together with recognition of the complex contexts of teaching practice and curriculum design. Underpinning the learning in the unit is a fundamental concern for justice and equity, and the dignity of all human beings.

This unit aims to assist pre-service teachers to develop an understanding of how children learn to read, specifically, the importance of grapho-phonic relationships, morphology and syntax and the role in early reading pedagogy.

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.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - describe the major theories of children’s emergent and early literacy development as these apply to early childhood and the early years of primary school and their implications for practice (GA5; APST 2.1, 2.5; ACECQA A2, B4)

LO2 - show how research on emergent and developing literacy underpins an understanding of the interdependence of talking, listening, reading, writing and viewing and informs understanding of current issues and debates (i.e. the teaching of phonics and phonemic awareness) (GA4, GA8; APST 1.2; ACECQA A2, B4)

LO3 - critically evaluate a range of approaches to monitoring and assessing young children’s composing and comprehending of spoken and written language, drawing on discipline knowledge developed in previous units (GA4; APST 3.3; ACECQA A2, B4, B9)

LO4 - understand the pedagogic consequences of linguistic and cultural differences and how to use the cultural and language knowledge that children bring to the classroom to support their literacy learning being responsive to a range of abilities (GA5; APST 1.3, 1.5, 3.3; ACECQA A6, B4, C5, C6, D4)

LO5 - use appropriate technologies to facilitate, enhance and assess emergent and early literacy learning, with a particular focus on developing and extending children’s responses to literary, factual and multimodal texts (GA9, GA10; APST 2.6, 3.3, 3.4, 5.1, 5.3, 5.4; ACECQA B4)

LO6 - investigation into the three strands of the Australian Curriculum: English and the implementation of pedagogical practices in classrooms (GA5, GA8; APST 2.1, 3.3, 3.4).

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


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

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

1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

1.5 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities. 

2.1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.

2.5 Know and understand literacy and numeracy teaching strategies and their application in teaching areas.

2.6 Implement teaching strategies for using ICT to expand curriculum learning opportunities for students.

3.3 Include a range of teaching strategies.

3.4 Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning.

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

5.3 Demonstrate understanding of assessment moderation and its application to support consistent and comparable judgements of student learning.

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


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

A. Psychology and child development           

A2. Language development

A6. Diversity, difference and inclusivity

B. Education and curriculum studies 

B4. Language and literacy

B9. Curriculum planning, programming and evaluation

C. Early childhood pedagogies          

C5. Catering to children with diverse needs and backgrounds

C6. Working with children who speak languages other than English

D. Families and community partnerships      

D4. Socially inclusive practice


  • The theories and processes of early and emergent reading and writing development and the implications for practice (e.g., socio-cultural, functional, cognitive theories);
  • Past and current theories and research of children’s literacy development and how these inform literacy practice in classrooms (e.g. language as a social process, cognitive, social construction, functional skills);
  • Developing foundational knowledge and skills such as concepts about print, use of sound-letter knowledge, comprehending strategies, spelling and handwriting; Literary, factual, media and multi-modal texts, especially those intended for young children who are learning the processes of reading, writing and viewing;
  • Strategies for effectively establishing links between home and school, and working with families to encourage children’s literacy learning;
  • Strategies for organising and managing groups of children, and for planning activities that promote and motivate young children’s emergent and early literacy learning;
  • Strategies for evaluating, developing, assessing, monitoring, programming and reporting for literacy development in early, emergent and continuing literacy;
  • Recognition and acceptance of different language patterns, and different socio-cultural experiences, together with strategies for addressing the emergent and early literacy needs of these students;
  • Research on contemporary issues such as teaching of phonics and phonemic awareness;
  • The rationale for using children’s literature and strategies to develop children’s literary enjoyment, understandings, reflections, and responses
  • Ways of integrating technologies in the literacy context and relevant teaching strategies to support this;
  • The rationale for play-based curriculum in teaching and learning and its role in the development of oral language and emergent literacy understandings;
  • International, national and state/territory documents for planning, implementing and evaluating the literacy program
  • Relevant national, state and territory curriculum documents and assessment.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Pre-service teachers will be involved in a variety of teaching-learning strategies to progress and demonstrate their understandings in this unit. Participants will be involved in a variety of teaching-learning strategies to support learning, including: online engagement, lectures, tutorials, seminar presentations and group discussions, both online and face-to-face, self-directed study activities and assessment tasks. Some participation in appropriate educational settings maybe required.

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 36 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 36 hours. Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours then become private study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. Such procedures may include, but are not limited to, essays, reports, examinations, student presentations or case studies.

Minimum Achievement Standards

The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to demonstrate achievement of each learning outcome.

The total assessment tasks will amount to the equivalent of 4,000 words.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment 1: Designing teaching and learning activities for K-2 based on children’s books

Part A: Shared Book Reading: Identify a year level on which to focus (K-2) and select a highly quality children’s book for use in the classroom. Justify the book choice with reference to its linguistic features and the opportunities it offers for developing code breaking and meaning making AND either (1) or (2)

Option (1): Write approximately 600 words on why reading to children is important and how it promotes language and literacy skills. 

Option (2): Prepare a script OR a video demonstration showing how to introduce the selected text in a classroom lesson.

Part B: Design of learning activities: Design TWO teaching and learning activities based on the selected book for developing listening, speaking, reading, writing and viewing, with reference to language and literacy theory and the national OR state curriculum. ONE teaching and learning activity must address phonics OR phonological awareness and the other should address any of the following: comprehension, vocabulary, visual literacy, spelling, reading fluency, word recognition. At least one activity should include a digital resource.


LO1, LO2, LO5, LO6

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9, GA10

Assessment Task 2: Implementing the Gradual Release of Responsibility model for teaching reading and writing


Students demonstrate their understanding of the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) model and its implementation in the classroom for teaching READING and WRITING, with consideration for the needs of EAL/D learners. The model, together with its theoretical rationale and its application, should be explained and accompanied by a discussion of strategies and considerations for assessing learners’ abilities in selected aspects of reading and/or writing.

Format may include essay, report or PowerPoint presentation.


LO1, LO2, LO3,LO4, LO5, LO6

GA4, GA5, GA8

Representative texts and references

Beauchat, K. A., & Blamey, K. L. (2012). Effective read-alouds for early literacy: A teacher's guide for PreK-1 (pp.7-16). New York: Guilford Press.

Clay, M. (2007). An observation survey of early literacy achievement. Auckland, NZ: Heinemann.

Emmitt, M., Zbaracki, M., Komesaroff, L., & Pollock, J. (2010). Language and learning: An introduction for teaching (5th ed.). Melbourne, Vic: Oxford University Press.

Fellowes, J., & Oakley G. (2010) Language, literacy and early childhood education. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Fleer, M., & Williams-Kennedy, D. (2002). Building Bridges: Literacy development in young indigenous children. Watson, ACT: AECA

Hill, S. (2012). Developing early literacy: Assessment and teaching (2nd ed.). South Yarra, Vic: Eleanor Curtain Publishing.

Holliday, M. (2008). Strategies for reading success. Newtown, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association (e:lit).

Pinnell, G.S., & Fountas, I.C. (2007). The Continuum of Literacy Learning Grades K-8: Behaviors and Understandings to Notice, Teach and Support. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann

Westwood, P. (2008). What teachers need to know about spelling. Camberwell, Vic.: ACER Press.

Winch, G., Johnston, R., March, P, Ljungdahl, L., & Holliday, M. (2014). Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (5th ed.). Melbourne: Oxford.

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