Thursday, November 15, 2012

ELEMENTARY COURSE IN ARABIC - 8 January to 7 February 2013 (5 weeks)

This course aims at developing students’ abilities to read and write Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), and acquire basic oral skills to interact in limited aspects of everyday life situations. Emphasis is on mastering the Arabic alphabet, its sound system and its pronunciation.
This course assumes no previous knowledge of the language. It covers the Arabic script and basic grammar rules. It is designed to develop the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing by the use of oral and written drills, supported by audio visual material.
On completion of the course students will have acquired: the ability to read and understand a range of simple Arabic sentences within a vocabulary range of 100-150 of the most commonly used words; the ability to speak at a basic level in Modern Standard Arabic and elementary knowledge of some Arabic cultural practices and traditions.
The lecturer will be Ms France Meyer (Lecturer in Arabic at CAIS, ANU). 
Time: Tuesday & Thursday 4.30—7.00pm               Cost: $450
Venue: Lecture Theatre, Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (Building 127), Ellery Crescent, The Australian National University 
To register your interest,  please contact the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (The Middle East and Central Asia) on (02) 612 54982 or email

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Interactive multilingual artwork for Civic Square

A community project under the auspices of Canberra Multicultural Community Forum (CMCF) in partnership with the ACT Office of Multicultural Affair.

Following a call for expression of interest (EOI) in February 2012, the concept ‘Lingua Franca Canberra’ was chosen for further development. The Canberra-based artistic team which submitted this EOI comprises Lea Collins, sound artist and designer; Susan Conroy, cultural planner and project officer, Mary Hutchison, writer and public historian; and Heike Qualitz, visual artist. 
With funding from CMCF, the team has developed a Design Development Report for their artwork. Lingua franca Canberra will be a rich tapestry of voices, accents, speech rhythms, turns of phrase and languages. The interactive intentions of the work will be established through a recording process with community participants, which is enjoyable and inventive, and encourages participants to contribute ideas. Conversational fragments will be interlaced with environmental sounds and strands of music.
The sculptural form will provide a physical frame for the sound installation and respond to the elements of the immediate space, including both natural and built aspects. It will be accessible to those passing by and encourage further investigation. A key visual form for the installation is that of the funnel – inspired by old gramophones – and suggesting active listening (see sketch below). 
The next steps include ensuring that the proposed artwork complies with the Civic Square Conservation Plan currently being developed and that there are no hidden problems beneath the proposed site. The team can then finalise the design and we can start raising necessary funds for constructing, installing and maintaining the artwork.
For more information, please contact Mandy on

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sunday 28 October 2012, 10am – 4pm

An introductory course for ACT Teachers and others with an interest in Thai studies. Areas to be covered include language, culture, customs, religion and basic Thai cooking. 

If you have an interest in Thailand or have students that are Thai, this short course will give you a better understanding of this unique country and its inhabitants.

Venue Room E4.44, 4th floor, Baldessin Precinct Building, ANU  

Free, but limit of 20 people.  Lunch and snacks will be provided. 

Please email expressions of interest to Chintana Sandilands at by 25 October 2012.

Friday, October 5, 2012

This long awaited policy appeared without much fanfare on the website of the ACT Office of Multicultural Affairs just before the ACT government went into caretaker mode in the lead up to the upcoming ACT election.
The policy makes a number of commitments to promote, enhance and safeguard the language skills in the ACT community. These include to:
  • work with the ACT languages sector to promote the benefits of languages education and influence positive attitudes towards languages education in our community
  • encourage schools to be aware of and value language learning outside the school – in the home, the community and in after-hours programs
  • encourage all Canberrans to learn languages in addition to English
  • make every effort to retain, preserve and use Australian languages in the ACT region
  • provide interpreting and translation services and use plain English to ensure access and equity to programs and services provided directly by the government or through NGOs
  • make English language programs readily available to Canberrans who need to improve their English proficiency (oral and/or literate)
A copy of the policy can be found at
While quite brief and short on detail about funding or how implementation can be measured, the policy is nevertheless a clear statement of the ACT government’s commitment to develop the language skills of all Canberrans and to acknowledge and value the vital role of languages in personal, family, community and economic life.
It is therefore to be hoped that whatever government comes to power after 20 October accepts the main thrust of the policy and acts upon it.
Meanwhile, why not become involved in monitoring the implementation of the policy and adding to its effectiveness? Policies cannot bring about change on the ground without organisational and community input and support.
If the actions of the ACT government and its agencies do not measure up to policy rhetoric, consider making your views known to the agencies concerned and to the ACT Office of Multicultural Affairs (email: nic.manikis  Individuals, groups and organisations might also consider using the policy as a basis for applying for governments funding and support!

Friday, August 17, 2012

NATIONAL YEAR OF READING - Reading Hour Saturday 25 August  2012
For all you keen readers out there! 
Think about celebrating the reading hour from 6pm- 7pm on 25 August. Check out the Libraries ACT facebook page or hop onto Twitter to see what others are reading, and share your plans for Saturday 25 August.  
The National Library of Australia is hosting a special event with authors Libby Gleeson and Jack Heath. Come along to listen to stories, browse the bookshop – where you can buy titles by Libby and Jack at 20% discount – or head to the cafe to read a book of your own. When? Saturday 25 August at 3.30 pm in the NLA Foyer and it’s free. You can book by calling 02 6262 1271 or book online.
The ACT Writers Centre are holding a pre Reading Hour event for readers and writers on Tuesday 21 August at Dickson Library from 6 – 8 pm. This is a great event particularly for children and young adults to get into. Find out more at
As part of another National Year of Reading program, ACT Libraries are looking for a writer to undertake an $8,000 (excluding GST) paid residency in an ACT workplace. Applications by interested writers are due by Friday 24 August. Click here for more details
Tickets are now on sale for the Canberra Readers’ Festival – visit the website for more information and to book for what will be a fantastic event.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Canberra Region Languages Forum Update

The June Update covers:   
  1.  A reprieve for the Japanese Program at the University of Canberra
  2. A missed literacy opportunity for Migrant & Refugee Students (EALD Review)
  3. Canberra events on Sunday 17 June: Languages Potluck Lunch (11am-2pm) and Traditional German Lantern Walk (5-6.30pm)
  4. Farewell and Thanks to Trish Wilks, Director of Learning and Teaching, ACT Education and Training Directorate (ETD)
  5. Reclaiming indigenous languages lecture
  6. Bilingual Conference: Thursday 14 June 2012, 8.30am-4pm, University of Sydney
  7. A chance to promote languages through the National Year of Reading (NYR)
  8. Language Programs for adults in the Canberra Region: Spanish, Mandarin, Italian
  9. Progress on the multilingual interactive artwork for Civic Square.
 To see details CLICK HERE

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Sunday 17 June, 11am to 2pm. 

Learners of other languages of all ages and people interested in promoting bilingualism are invited to come and meet families raising young children in more than one language and seniors from a range of language and cultural backgrounds.

Bring along your favourite foods and share your cooking skills and recipes.  There will also be children's games from around the world and free fun activities for children.

The event is being held in the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre in Civic Square, London Circuit, Canberra City (near Civic Library and the Canberra Theatre).
For more details see or contact (email) or phone Mandy on 6125 9673 (messages) or 0408 089 235.

This is the second ‘Meet a Language Grand’ event for 2012 organised by the ACT Bilingual Education Alliance, a local non-profit community group and supported by the ACT Government Multicultural Grants Program 2011-12

For more details see, email or phone Mandy on 6125 9673 (messages) or 0408 089 235

Traditional German Lantern Walk in Canberra
Sunday 17 June, 2012  5pm to 6:30pm Glebe Park in Civic

Sausages, Saint Martin's Brötchen, traditional Gluehwein, Kindergluehwein, will be available for a gold coin donation each.  (BYO mug.)

Song sheets provided.  Desserts and treats available after the walk.  Dress warmly!  Prams, friends, grandparents, all welcome! 

More info, email: or ring Lisa 6251 7743

There is more information here about the event, the history of the lantern walk, song sheets, how Spielwelt members can get their lanterns, the lantern sticks and batteries and so on. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Call for Expressions of Interest: Interactive artwork to celebrate languages in the Canberra region

Canberra Multicultural Community Forum (CMCF), in partnership with the ACT Office of Multicultural Affairs, is calling for expressions of interest from artists to design an artwork for Civic Square which will celebrate the many languages spoken in the ACT area.

The artwork should be visually appealing, interactive, and incorporate sound, for example the voices of Canberrans speaking various languages. There may also be an associated web presence. 

The aim is to celebrate languages spoken in the Canberra area in the past and the vibrant multicultural present, and the importance of languages and communication for the future of Canberra as an international city and national capital. The artwork should also symbolise the important role of multilingualism in a city that interacts with the world through its residents as well as international visitors, delegations and diplomatic missions.  
Closing Date for Expressions of Interest:  30 March 2012
For more information  contact Mandy Scott or phone (02) 6125 9673 or 0408 089 235 (m) 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Celebrate the many languages spoken in the Canberra Region!

Be part of an exciting marathon performance of the Austrian Christmas song Stille Nacht (Silent Night) in Garema Place in December 2012!  The idea – born at a meeting of the ACT Bilingual Education Alliance (ACTBEA)  – is to perform the song in as many languages as possible. We may even get into the Guinness Book of World Records!

The song will be sung in each language, one after the other, by small groups. Each group should contain at least one native-speaker-ACT region-resident. The event may be associated with stalls and other activities.

Would you like to get involved? You don't need to sing! Plenty of logistics and planning needed as well ...

For more details and to register your interest, contact:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

English as a second language (ESL) support in ACT schools

There was heated debate in the ACT Legislative Assembly (see Hansard of 7 December 2011) over the ACT government decision to abolish one of the two ESL executive teacher positions which provide central support for teachers in government schools. This cut had been opposed by a number of bodies including the Australian Education Union, Parent and Citizens Council and Principals’ Associations.
While all political parties agreed that the need for ESL specialist assistance in ACT schools has increased, how to best meet this need and whether current funding is adequate was hotly disputed. An ACT Liberal motion to retain the ESL executive position was defeated. However, the following Greens’ amendment was accepted ­ that the government: 
a) Undertake a review of ESL services including the Language Performance Rating cut off for full and partial support funding, with a view to raising the required level of English proficiency and the professional development and Directorate support services available to teachers;
b) in conducting the review, consult with all relevant community stakeholders as well as ESL classroom teachers and their representatives; and
c) report back to the Assembly by April 2012
Details of how the review will be conducted and how stakeholders will be consulted are not yet available, but arrangements will presumably be put in place swiftly in view of the tight time frame.  
If you are a stakeholder in this area and want your voice to be heard, look out for official announcements or contact the Director General of the ACT Directorate of Education, Jim Watterston, for more information. He can be reached via 6207 5111 or at GPO Box 158, Canberra ACT 2601.  

Cuts to language programs in the ACT

Despite the growing recognition of the many social, economic and educational benefits of maintaining and developing multilingual skills in the Canberra community, 2012 will see a reduction in language programs for adults.
Certificate and Diploma programs 
As those who read the strident letters to the Canberra Times in early December will know, the CIT has cancelled its Certificate III and IV language courses in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, French and Spanish from 2012.  As the disgruntled letter writers pointed out, this effectively makes it impossible for Canberrans working full-time to study another language to a reasonable level of fluency in a well structured accredited program.
Also discontinued from 2012 is the part-time Graduate Diploma in Languages at the University of Canberra, which was available in Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese.
Japanese language at the University of Canberra (UC)
On 21 December 2011, lecturers in Japanese at UC were shocked to be informed that the university’s Japanese language program was to be abolished. Following representations from a number of organisations, including the NTEU, Japan Foundation and Embassy of Japan, closure has been postponed – either until the start of Semester 2 or at the end of 2012. This leaves students already enrolled in the program and staff in limbo and discourages new enrolments. Abolition of the program also severely restricts options for the study of languages on the UC campus and could have trickle down effects on Japanese study in schools in the ACT region.
UC students of Japanese have started an online petition, which you are welcome to sign at  
If you wish to write directly to the UC Vice Chancellor about the proposed cuts, you can email him at