Saturday, December 30, 2017

Languages education in the discussion of the Future of Education in the ACT

It is disappointing to see little mention of languages policy or language education in the discussion so far. As ‘Many Voices’ the ACT Language Policy notes, Canberra is a multilingual city where different languages are part of the natural development of the community as a whole. The policy recognises the many benefits of learning and developing skills in more than one language, and states that “the maintenance and development of first, second and subsequent languages is essential.”

The community conversation about the Future of Education has identified ‘Learning for the Future by developing 21st century skills’ as a major theme. Language learning has been shown to have a central role in developing critical thinking, problem solving skills, adaptability, creativity, collaboration, cultural literacy and relationship building. These are all identified as 21st century skills in the Themes document.

Another theme notes the need to “engage students by better using their interests and skills to develop a love of, and engagement with, learning”. The skills in other languages students bring with them to school are not always sufficiently valued and built on. An understandable focus on English language and literacy can ignore the vital role other languages can play. As the ACT Education and Training pamphlet 5. Bilingualism and Multilingualism: English as an Additional Language or Dialect Education states:
  • There is a real risk that if EAL/D learners are not provided with targeted and specialised English language instruction, and are not encouraged to maintain home language and literacy practices, they may only develop limited competency in both languages. This will prevent them from reaching their full potential
A wealth of research indicates the cognitive and educational benefits of developing proficiency in more than one language. Failure to actively encourage and support the continued development of bilingual skills in students from CALD backgrounds thus militates against equity, a major focus of the ACT Future of Education exercise, and ignores significant student resources. It can also have detrimental effects on family relationships, identity issues and mental health, all aspects of ‘wellbeing', which the Theme ‘Real Life Skills’ links to academic achievement.

Learning another language is also important for students who live in the 80% or so of Canberra homes where only English is spoken. As noted in the Australian curriculum, Languages:
          Learning languages:
  • extends the capability to communicate and extends literacy repertoires
  • strengthens understanding of the nature of language, of culture, and of the processes of communication
  • develops intercultural capability
  • develops understanding of and respect for diversity and difference, and an openness to different experiences and perspectives
  • develops understanding of how culture shapes worldviews and extends learners’ understanding of themselves, their own heritage, values, culture and identity
  • strengthens intellectual, analytical and reflective capabilities, and enhances creative and critical thinking.
        Learning languages broadens students’ horizons in relation to the personal, social, cultural and            employment opportunities that an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world                      presents. … Despite its status as a world language, a capability in English only is no longer                  sufficient. A bilingual or plurilingual capability is the norm in most parts of the world.

A greater focus on language learning in ACT Education would therefore promote equity and increase the quality of education. Language education should be considered in a holistic way, seeking synergies between English language programs, home language support, and an additional language for all.

Friday, November 3, 2017

There is life after a degree in linguistics!

As the author of this article has found: "there are actually more opportunities outside of academia than I thought. The future for linguists in industry is bright, as we’ll be using speech more and more to interface with our phones, cars, toasters, personal robot servants, etc"

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Languages in Adelaide, 27 - 29 November 2017

1. LCNAU Colloquium: Intersections: Collaboration and the Future for Language and Cultures

The colloquium runs for two and a half days and is free for current members of LCNAU (the Languages and Cultures Network of Australian Universities). The program consists of more than 50 papers, 5 keynotes and 5 panels, as well as the annual general meeting of LCNAU and the annual meeting of Heads of Schools of Languages.

For more information:

2. The Adelaide Language Festival.

Following the colloquium, on the afternoon and evening of Wednesday 29 November (2pm-7pm), the University of Adelaide is hosting this free public event. The Adelaide Language Festival aims to celebrate cultural and intellectual diversity, and to help university students, high school pupils and adults in the community learn more about the various cognitive and health benefits of being multilingual.

For details: or 
contact Professor Ghil‘ad Zuckermann:, 08 8313 5247 or 0423 901 808

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

ANU Language Teaching Forum - Special Seminar

From Idea to Reality: Language, Culture, and the Development of a Language Program
  • Thursday, 5 October 2017, 4.15 – 5.15 pm 
  • A.D. Hope Conference Room (Building #14) ANU
  • Presenter Dr Eugenia Demuro, Senior Lecturer in Spanish and Latin American Studies at Deakin University, where she convenes the Spanish Program
  • Free and all welcome
Spanish at Deakin University was offered for the first time in 2014, across multiple campuses as well as online. In Trimester 1, 2014, Spanish consisted of one fixed-term staff and one unit; three years later the full diploma/major sequence is on offer, and the program employs three full time-ongoing members of staff, one fixed term contract, and over half a dozen tutors. As for enrolments, over the last four years, the program has taught between 350 to 400 students each trimester - now across first, second and third year. This presentation provides an overview of the practical and theoretical considerations underpinning the establishment of the program. It outlines the development of the program from idea to reality, mapping some of the key considerations in curriculum design, pedagogy, the use of teaching and learning resources and online technologies, in the teaching of language and culture. The paper discusses some of the challenges, successes, failures, and lessons learned.

The ANU Language Teaching Forum aims to foster the exchange of research and new approaches in language education. Language teachers and researchers across ANU colleges and language educators from outside the university such as secondary school teachers and teachers from community schools are all welcome. For more information and/or to join the mailing list, contact:
  • Ms France Meyer (Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies, CASS) 
  • Dr Duck-Young Lee (School of Culture, History & Language, CAP)
  • Dr Manuel Delicado (School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, CASS)

Multilingual Poetry

Podcasts featuring poetry in other languages from this year's Poetry on the Move festival in September in Canberra are now available.

To hear a special performance by the Mothertongue multi-lingual poetry collective performing their original work ‘Homespun’ click on Episode 9 at the right hand side of the page HERE.

‘Homespun’ is written and performed in five languages (six, including English) by four poets who came together through Mother Tongue Multilingual Poetry events and workshops in Canberra. Originally created for the Noted experimental writers festival, ‘Homespun’ explores ideas and feelings about displacement, longing, love and home. The poets are:  Vesna Cvjeticanin (Serbian), Karina Bontes-Forward (Spanish), Anita Patel (Bahasa Malay) and Asefeh Zeinalabedini (Azerbaijani and Persian)
For a podcast of a performance and interview with Japanese poet Hiromi Ito recorded during her visit to Australia as part of the Poetry on the Move Festival click on Episode 10 at the right had side HERE

Friday, September 22, 2017

Recognition and support for languages and language learning in Canberra

On 15 September 2017, MLAs from all parties in the ACT Legislative Assembly spoke about the importance of languages, language learning, language maintenance and, in the case of indigenous languages, language revitalisation. The following was agreed to:

That this Assembly:
1. notes:
  • in 1999, the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization proclaimed annual observance of International Mother Language Day on 21 February;
  • that about 170 languages are spoken in Canberra;
  • the significance of preserving Indigenous languages as a link to Indigenous culture and histories and as an expression of identity;
  • the place of language instruction in government and non-government schools and in other organisations such as the 40 community language schools in the ACT;
  • the social, cultural and economic benefits of multi-lingualism to the ACT and Australia; and
  • that the Government’s ACT Languages Policy encourages the learning of a language other than English, and 
2. calls on the ACT government to observe International Mother Language Day in the ACT to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by the people around the world, especially those in Canberra, through:
  • establishing collections and displays, sometimes called an “Ekushey Corner”, at ACT Libraries to promote and protect mother languages;
  • promoting the active participation, revitalisation and maintenance of local Indigenous languages;
  • exploring options to support the construction ofa monument in Canberra dedicated to the mother languages of Australians;
  • continuing the ACT Heritage Library’s collection of oral history as a means of preserving the multi-lingual inheritance of the ACT; and
  • supporting second language instruction in schools.
For full transcript of supporting speeches and discussion see:

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Workshop on second language pronunciation teaching and learning

  • Friday 6 October 2017, 9am-4.30pm 
  • Baldessin Building, ANU, Canberra
This workshop aims to bring together the community of teachers and scholars, in Canberra and beyond, interested in L2 pronunciation teaching and learning, in particular those of languages other than English. The workshop will consist of talks in the morning dealing with current research in the field, a round table, and hands-on sessions in the afternoon. It will provide a combination of theory and practice, opportunities for networking, and may open avenues for future collaborations.

All language teachers and scholars interested in the role and implementation of L2 pronunciation are welcome to attend.

For more information, draft program and presentation abstracts:

Please RSVP for catering purposes by 22 September to

Friday, September 8, 2017

Canberra Region Languages Forum Update September 2017

Some information about language-related activities and news, especially in the Canberra region. 
  • Canberra Academy of Languages: Information evening, Thursday 14 September 
  • Poetry on the move, UC. 14 - 21 September. Includes multilingual poets and translations
  • Volunteers needed to lead conversation groups at ANU College, apply by 8 September 2017.
  • Opportunities for language learning in the ACT area 
          - Language Exchange Canberra PJ O'Reilly's, Alinga St, Civic
          - Polyglot Club University House ANU
  • New Mandarin programs 
         - 10 week course in Basic Mandarin October – December 2017
          - School holiday Chinese and art program  3 - 6 October  2017
          - Humans who read grammars, a blog by young linguists
         - The Language Teacher Helpmate: Resources
         - A free online English course to help students preparing for IELTS. 

For more details, download the Update HERE

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Technology for Teaching Translation: Case Studies in Chinese/English

  • Monday 28 August 2017, 4.15 – 5.15 pm
  • Room W3.03, Level 3, Baldessin Precinct Building #110, ANU
  • Speakers: Dr Shengyu Fan and Grazia Scotellaro, CAP, ANU
This presentation will report on a recent project undertaken by Dr. Shengyu Fan and Grazia Scotellaro to introduce the use of apps and online resources in teaching Translation and Interpreting in Chinese for CAP. The project initially set out to test and evaluate a range of technologies including Google Translate, Padlet, Scrible and Socrative and only the most appropriate were then used in CHIN3041/6041 course: Case Studies in Translation: Chinese/English. One of the main aims of this project is to break out from the traditional way of teaching and assessing student learning in this field. We live in a technology rich society. Mobile technology is part of our daily lives, but in stark contrast, we still teach in a way that does not fully engage with this life and work scenario. Our aim is to teach students to be critical users of technologies, especially in the field of translation and interpreting. Translation Studies students who are exposed to a variety of practical uses of modern technology are better equipped to work in the 21st century

This forum is jointly coordinated by the College of Arts & Social Sciences (the School of Literature, Languages & Linguistics and the Centre for Arab & Islamic Studies) and the College of Asia & the Pacific (the School of Culture, History & Language).

For more information and to join the mailing list:
  • Ms France Meyer (CAIS, CASS) E 
  • Dr Duck-Young Lee (CHL, CAP) E 
  • Dr Consuelo Martinez Reyes (SLLL, CASS) E

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Special Seminar ANU Language Teaching Forum, Monday 7 August

Dr Mirella Agorni, who is on a teaching exchange from Ca' Foscari University of Venice, will be presenting at a special ANU Language Teaching Forum: Training Language Experts in Translation in a Transferability Perspective.
  • Monday 7 August, 4.15-5.15pm
  • Room W3.03, Level 3, Baldessin Precinct Building #110, ANU. 
The paper will focus on translation teaching in university foreign-language curricula and will discuss an approach based on the concept of ‘transferability’: this approach tries to go beyond the dichotomy between translation as a means for foreign-language teaching and testing, and translation as an activity with a considerable professional dimension. Finally, the project of an accompanying classroom textbook will be presented.

For more information see POSTER

Monday, July 3, 2017

June Update for Canberra Region Languages Forum

Some information about language-related activities and news, especially in the Canberra region.

For more details you can download a copy of the Update  HERE 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Gungahlin College – Open Night (Hindi Language)

Gungahlin College now has the option of studying Hindi Language (Year 11 - 12). Hindi courses offer structured practice with emphasis on the four macro-skills in language learning - listening, speaking, reading and writing. Information Technology is also integrated into teaching as well as cultural aspects of the Hindi language.
  • Date: Thursday, 18th May 2017
  • Time: 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
  • Where: Gungahlin College, 23 Gozzard St, Gungahlin ACT 2912
  • Cost: Event free. 
More Info: Phone: (02) 6142 1000 Email:; Email:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Round Table: Language rights for indigenous and tribal peoples

Round table presented by the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, ANU and the Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies (ANCLAS)
  • Thursday 11 May, 6:30pm
  • Haydon-Allen Lecture Theatre (The Tank),Haydon-Allen Building # 22, ANU

  • Prof Jane Simpson
  • Prof Liliana Sánchez
  • Prof Marcus Maia
  • Norah Xueqing Zhong
Indigenous languages across the world continue to have a minoritised status despite efforts from indigenous communities, regional and in some cases even national governments to secure policies and practices to turn around this status. The international labour organisation through convention 169 (1989) protects the rights of tribal and indigenous peoples. In Latin America, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela have ratified this convention and are legally bound to respect the rights conferred by it to indigenous peoples. These include the rights to the full realization of their cultural rights of which language is a vital component.

In this round table, speakers will engage in a discussion about the current state of indigenous languages, language policies, maintenance and revitalization efforts in two Latin American countries, Brazil and Peru, as well as in Australia and China. The goal is to present different outlooks on language policies and practices affecting indigenous populations in these regions from an international perspective.

This lecture is free and open to the public. No RSVP required.      

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Canberra Region Languages Forum Update April 2017

Some news and information about languages and languages-related activities, especially in the Canberra region:.
For more details download a copy of the April Update HERE 

If you would like to join the email list to receive these occasional Updates please email

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Mother Language Walk 2017

Unite for diversity on 26 February 2017 
The UN has proclaimed that February 21st is International Mother Language Day. Celebrate your mother tongue by joining the 2017 Mother Languages Walk across Commonwealth Bridge in Canberra.
When? 10am Sunday 26 February 2017
Who?   Anyone and everyone! 
Where? Under the flags, near the National Library in Canberra.
·         Sing your mother language during the walk
·         Wear something traditional or colourful
·         Bring banners, posters or anything else that celebrates your language identity
·         Sausage sizzle and children’s games available at the end of the walk

More info? see Facebook or Email 

Mother Tongue – Multilingual Poetry

Celebrate the languages, cultures and stories of our diverse community at the Multilingual Poetry Showcase.
·         Canberra Fringe Festival, Canberra City
·         10am-1pm, Saturday 18 February 2017
Anyone who speaks a language other than English is invited to register their interest in taking part. All languages are welcome, and any style, from traditional poetic forms to hip hop. 
Each person will have up to 5 minutes to read or recite a poem or story in their language/s, or a mix of their language and English.  Original work is encouraged, but a favourite piece by another poet is also welcome. 
Workshops for young people (12-25 yrs old) who speak a language other than English
Mother Tongue, in partnership with the Multicultural Youth Service, Canberra, is offering two free workshops for young people
·         Friday 3 February, 4.30pm – 6pm, to write a poem or short story, and
·         Friday 10 February, 4.30pm – 6pm, to learn performance skills to read or recite their words out loud
·         Venue for both workshops: Multicultural Youth Services, Level 2 Theo Notaras Centre, London Circuit, Canberra   
To sign up to share poetry at the Fringe Festival or for the workshops and/or for more information, email or call 0433 845 900.