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I Quit! An exploratory study into language teacher attrition in Queensland schools

Mason, S.ORCID: 0000-0002-8999-4448 (2014) I Quit! An exploratory study into language teacher attrition in Queensland schools. In: Travis, C., Hajek, J., Nettelbeck, C., Beckmann, E. and Lloyd-Smith, A., (eds.) Practices and Policies: Current research in languages and cultures education. Selected Proceedings of the Second National LCNAU Colloquium, Canberra, 3-5 July 2013. Languages &​ Cultures Network for Australian Universities, Melbourne, VIC, pp. 207-221.

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Two decades of mandatory language education in Queensland has failed to produce increased student participation beyond the compulsory years (Liddicoat 2010). So, what have been the barriers to success in Queensland, and how can the Queensland experience inform other states? A major factor inhibiting the success of language education is a chronic shortage of language teachers. An exploration into the supply and demand chain has put forth a strong case that teacher attrition—teachers leaving to teach in other subject areas, other areas of education, or to other careers—is a major cause of this shortage.

This paper reports on the initial findings from a research study at Griffith University that is seeking to identify the reasons why language teachers leave their jobs. Data collected from 227 former and current language teachers in Queensland reveal that lack of preparedness, lack of support, and lack of respect for the subject area has a strong impact on language teacher attrition. More than half of the responding former teachers have remained attached to education, which suggests an inherent and deeper problem specific to language education, compared to teacher attrition in the broader educational context.

While the focus of this research is primary and secondary teachers, there are implications for the tertiary sector which link to the themes presented. Firstly, it discusses language education policy during the early years of learning and its shortcomings. Secondly, the shortage of quality language teachers and its impact on quality language education in earlier years is shown to be a probable obstacle to student pathways into university language studies.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: Languages &​ Cultures Network for Australian Universities
Copyright: © 2014
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