The first fundamental change to teaching at Saturday School was the introduction of the Course Outlines for all languages at all levels. The Course Outlines initiated the thematic, integrated approach to teaching and formalized the concept of continuity for each language. The school had in the meantime been extended to include primary classes, so that the curriculum of the VSL now included all primary and secondary levels (from Year 1 to Year 12).
The development of the Course Outlines was the task undertaken by the Language Coordinators. The school provided a format for the structure of the Outlines. The guidelines specified eight themes or topics appropriate for each level. Each topic was to consist of appropriate activities at that level, assessment tasks, grammatical elements and textbook references.
The developed Course Outlines lay the foundation for a systematic model of LOTE syllabus design. Units of work shared a common organizational focus centred on a topic/ activities based approach which brought together the various elements involved in the teaching and learning of specific content and focused on communication as the central goal.
All instructors working in the VSL were to prepare individual syllabi within the structure of the relevant Course Outlines for their own classes each year. This was in recognition of the fact that while it is necessary for the school to define a common curriculum rationale, methodological approach and organisational focus, the needs and interests of individual students and groups will vary widely across the school. It is therefore important for instructors to design, within the broader curriculum structure, detailed programs which are sensitive to the needs, interests and aspirations of their own students.
Slovenian VSL Course Outlines
At the beginning of 1991 Aleksandra Ceferin completed “Slovenian Course Outlines 7-10 and VCE 11-12”, with 8 topics at each year level for lower secondary levels and 12 topics for each VCE level. Slovenian Course Outlines was amongst the first to be completed, particularly at VCE level. The VCE level outlines were subsequently used as a model for development of course outlines in other languages of the VSL, and were used on the Midyear School Curriculum Day to familiarise teachers with a VCE Course Outline in preparation to develop their own.
The topics developed for the Slovenian Course Outlines reflected a strong bias towards culture and cultural activities. They ranged from the personal to a community-based focus. At lower levels focusing on customs and traditions and broadened at higher levels by exploring historical and literary themes, integrating as much as possible the personal and social fields in the suggested activities and the texts selected for study. Literary themes were explored, including the life experience of the poet, the historical context of his literary productions and personal experience of family and friends. Old traditions and customs were investigated whenever possible by talking to grandparents. The topic Family extended to family in Slovenia and personal letters were written as set tasks. Interest in Slovenian music was encouraged and students wrote to a well-known Slovenian ensemble – and received a response.
In 1992 there were two Slovenian classes, the junior levels 7 to 10 were taught by Sandi Ceferin, the senior VCE levels 11 and 12 by Viki Mrak. The VCE level requirements and standards were clearly defined and all students who wished to complete the VCE had to strive to achieve them.