China's official language is Modern Standard Chinese, or Putonghua (the common or shared language) in Chinese. The language is also referred to as Hanyu, the spoken language of the Han people, or Zhongwen, the written language of China. In Taiwan it is more usually called Huayu (Hwayu), the spoken language of people of Chinese ethnicity. This term is also used in Singapore. Chinese speakers are characterised by linguistic, cultural and geographic diversity and can be found in almost every country of the world from the Pacific coast of Canada and the USA, and in South-East Asia, Australia and some European countries.

The history of the Chinese community in Australia extends back to the mid-1800s, and patterns of migration in recent decades have seen rapid growth in Australia’s Chinese population. Chinese has been taught in Australian schools since the 1950s, and experienced rapid growth in the 1980s as China undertook a policy of open-door and economic reform. Chinese is recognised as an important language for young Australians to learn as Australia progresses towards a future of increased trade and engagement with Asia.

Modern Standard Chinese includes a number of Chinese dialects still in active use today. In addition, the character system has undergone significant evolution, standardisation and simplification over time. In recent times, the need to create Chinese language texts in digital format has resulted in an international effort to standardise character forms and attribute a Unicode to each form so that computer operating systems internationally can generate and reproduce Chinese texts in both simplified and traditional/full-form characters.

The Australian Curriculum: Languages, for Chinese includes three pathways, to cater to the main cohorts of learners of Chinese in Australian schools. The Australian Curriculum: Languages for Chinese Background Language pathway, Years 7 to 10 (Year 7 entry), caters for students who have exposure to Chinese language and culture, and who may engage in some active but predominantly receptive use of Chinese at home. The Chinese First Language pathway Years 7 to 10 (Year 7 entry), caters for students who have had their primary socialisation as well as initial literacy development and primary schooling in Chinese, and who use Chinese at home. Teachers will use the pathways to cater for all learners by making any appropriate adjustments to differentiate learning experiences for their students.

Background Language F-10

Background Language 7-10

First Language 7-10

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