From principles to practice: Implementing an English language proficiency model at UniSA

  • Rowena Harper University of South Australia
Keywords: English language proficiency, PELA, academic literacies


In 2012, the University of South Australia launched the “English language model”: a university-wide strategy aimed at developing the English language proficiency of all coursework students. While it responded directly to the Good Practice Principles for English Language Proficiency for International Students in Australian Universities (2009), the model required changes to academic language and learning (ALL) practice that were contentious with staff and students, including the introduction of a new post-entry English language assessment, and the recasting of ALL work within an English language frame. Six months into the model, minor revisions were required, as many staff resisted implementing the model as it was originally conceived. This paper reports on research conducted one year into the model that aimed to understand whether, and to what extent, the model’s conceptualisation of English language proficiency, and its corresponding reconceptualisation of ALL practice, had been subsequently understood and put into practice by staff and students. A mixed-methods approach was used drawing primarily on staff interview transcripts, triangulated where possible with student survey feedback, and ALL team individual consultation records. Findings suggest that while staff are highly supportive of particular aspects of the model, and the idea of a model more broadly, they have actively resisted the way it sought to refocus certain ALL practices on a narrow construct of English language. The findings discussed here offer insights into some of the complexities that can emerge when implementing an English language strategy.
How to Cite
Harper, R. (2013). From principles to practice: Implementing an English language proficiency model at UniSA. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 7(2), A150-A164. Retrieved from