Friday, March 16, 2018

ACT libraries are looking for volunteer adult literacy tutors

Libraries ACT is hosting two information sessions for people interested in volunteering to help adults (with a focus on those who speak English as their first language) to improve their reading and writing skills: 
  • Monday 19 March 2018 at Kippax Library, 11.00 am – 12.00 pm and 
  • Monday 26 March at Woden Library, 5.30 pm – 6.30 pm. 

There will then be a two day training intensive for suitable volunteers in June 2018. 

To find out more: contact Rachel, Learning Projects Manager, 6205 9671 (phone) or email

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: