Two years of trying to remove the outdated term ‘LOTE’ from my current school , it still sneakily appears on school documents, is still uttered by colleagues despite my constant nagging, and is still written neatly on the front of notebooks at the start of the school year. Sure, parents might not realise the term LOTE is outdated as they prepare their children’s materials, but it’s been off the booklist for years and no-one is writing SOSE on notebooks now that we have History in its place.
My battle lies not only within the school, but it extends to those who should know better. Until recently OneSchool, the interface for Qld state school teachers to organise and input report results, the subject area was listed as LOTE. We have a LOTE Library and LOTE Coordinators. This doesn’t align with the Australian Curriculum: Languages, the National Statement for Languages Education in Australian Schools, the Professional standards for accomplished teaching of languages and cultures, or numerous other government policy documents – and yet it still stubbornly remains.
Some might say that it’s just semantics, and that’s the attitude of most colleagues who mean well but just can’t empathise with my frustration. As Languages educators we understand the power of words, and the real implications the term LOTE has on the perception of our subject. Namely,
*The term LOTE is divisive, referring to English on one side and ‘everything else’ on the other. It’s a reflection of the Australian monolingual mindset, where English reigns supreme and there is little need to learn another language.
*The singular term LOTE assumes that it is one, all-encompassing subject, and does not acknowledge the intricacies unique to each individual language and the ways in which they should be taught. It relays to schools that one LOTE is interchangeable with another, something which is done all too commonly to overcome teacher shortages.
*Students, parents, and the wider community, at a glance, don’t automatically know what the acronym means (regardless of how many times we tell them). If we use terms like ‘the French classroom’ or ‘Chinese notebook’, it’s clear what is the subject is about. I wonder how many wide-eyed boys and girls think they are going to get some footy tips from Lote Tuqiri? We’re marginalised enough to be even less visible.
With the national curriculum rolling out, we have yet another opportunity to start fresh in Languages education. A new name brings new beginnings. Join me in my bid to rid this term from the common vernacular.
Do you think I’m overreacting?
What’s your opinion of the term LOTE?
Have you had success in getting the term removed from your school?
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