Community languages program K–6

A program supporting learning outcomes for language learners across the state, operating across many NSW public schools.

The Community Languages Program K–6:

  • was established and is supported by all members of the school community in line with the Community Languages Program K-6 Guidelines.
  • caters for background speakers
  • encourages the inclusion of non-background speakers, fostering and celebrating harmony, diversity and unity.

Watch Community Languages Program K–6 video (4:45) to learn about the program.

Learn about the program


The Community Languages Program K–6 has been operating during school hours in NSW public schools since 1981. The program aims to help schools engage meaningfully with their local community by supporting students to maintain or develop skills in their background or heritage language.

Through this study of language and culture, students develop an appreciation of multiculturalism, inter-culturalism and multilingualism within their school and community. This resource outlines how the Community Languages Program K–6 operates in NSW public schools and the responsibilities for teachers and supervisors.

So, what is a community language?

The term ‘community language’ can refer to any language other than English used within the Australian community. Community languages are spoken by Australians in their everyday lives and are used for communication within the family and broader community. Participation in the Community Languages Program K–6 provides a number of positive benefits for schools and students.

Schools identify a stronger sense of social cohesion within the school community and an increase in parental involvement in school activities. Students develop communication skills in the target community language, gaining deeper cultural understanding and a greater sense of personal identity and self-esteem.

The Community Languages Program K–6 has grown dramatically in the 40 years since its establishment with student enrolments increasing from 4000 to 44 000. The number of teachers employed by the program has jumped from 37 full-time equivalent positions to 243. The number of available languages offered has risen from 8 to 30 over this time. The Community Languages K–6 Program currently offers a wide variety of languages in NSW public schools. Decisions about the inclusion of new languages are determined by community and school interest and teacher availability.

The Community Languages Program K–6 Guidelines outline the criteria to be met by schools in order to establish the program. The following criteria must be met in order to participate in the program:

  • The target language must be spoken within the local school community
  • The school must demonstrate community and staff support for the program
  • A qualified teacher of the community language must be appointed
  • The school must deliver a minimum of two hours of language teaching per group per week incorporated into the regular school timetable
  • Group sizes must be similar to normal class sizes within the school
  • The school must provide a dedicated classroom to enable the community languages teacher to develop a language learning environment and
  • Schools are responsible for completing an annual online survey.

The Community Languages Program K–6 is delivered by specialist languages teachers with approved NSW Department of Education teaching qualifications. Their role is to design and deliver teaching programs informed by the NSW K-10 language syllabuses and the K–10 languages framework.

Community Languages teachers are employed in addition to normal staffing requirements and should not be used in place of casual teachers or for creating smaller class sizes. Primary teachers who have both language teaching tertiary qualifications and approval to teach in NSW public schools, can be appointed as Community Languages teachers on a permanent basis.

Teachers can demonstrate language proficiency through the Community Language Teachers’ Test (CLTT). This test is available through The University of Sydney in 30 languages and is offered at least twice per year. Teachers with overseas teaching qualifications must also complete an Acceptable English Test in order to participate in the Community Languages Program K–6.

Schools interested in establishing and participating in the program are encouraged to explore the Community Languages K-6 Guidelines on the NSW Department of Education website. For further information, please contact the Languages K–6 team.

Languages K–6 curriculum support

02 7814 3762

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Community Languages teachers' test

The Community Languages teachers' test (CLTT) has been developed to assess the level of language proficiency in community languages taught in NSW public schools. The CLTT has three components:

  • writing
  • reading comprehension and reading aloud
  • speaking and listening.

The Sydney Institute for Community Languages Education (SICLE) at the University of Sydney in collaboration with the Department of Education delivers the CLTT.

To sit the test, candidates must have:

To register their interest in sitting the test, email your employee ID, current email address and the language test you wish to sit to teacher approvals –

Advice for schools

Allocations are given to schools based on the number of background speakers, however, schools can choose to allow non-background speakers to join the program. This decision will be based on factors such as the number of background speakers in the school and the load of the Community Languages teacher.

Modern Languages K–10 syllabus

All language programs taught in NSW primary school are required to use the Modern Languages K–10 syllabus for teaching, assessing and reporting to parents.


One common timetabling scenario for schools in the Community Languages Program is for whole classes to learn the language for 1 hour per week with background speakers working in smaller groups for an additional hour. It is recommended that class teachers and the Community Languages teacher liaise with each other to ensure that similar content is taught in both the language room and classroom during this additional hour. All students must access all key learning areas equitably, students should not miss out through their involvement in the program.

Changing numbers

Schools with growing numbers of background speakers can apply for increased allocations. If there is a significant decline in students participating in the program, the allocation may be reduced in order to support schools with a growing cohort of community language students.

Annual community languages survey

All participating schools are required to complete an annual survey in Term 2. The survey includes information on the number of background and non-background speakers in the program, the number of students per group and the time students spend learning a community language.


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