Somewhat surprisingly, an explicit knowledge about language has been often absent from English curricula. The new Australian Curriculum: English (ACARA, 2012) has taken a fairly radical step in placing knowledge about language at the core of classroom practice, thereby raising the issue of an appropriate model of language to inform the Language Strand of the Curriculum. This paper will outline the rationale behind the Language Strand, and will then make explicit its underlying model of language. The paper thus provides a context for the ensuing articles in this Special Focus Issue of AJLL, which take up various concerns in relation to implementation of the Curriculum and especially of the Language strand of the English Curriculum. The paper concludes by canvassing a number of issues relevant to the development and implementation of the Curriculum: student outcomes, terminology, and pedagogy.