Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Community language school initiatives in 2013

1. Chinese Camp

The Australian School of Contemporary Chinese ran an innovative Chinese Camp in Canberra during the October school holidays. Over 140 children had fun in a number of activities while being immersed in the Chinese language. Although the majority of participants had Chinese heritage, the camp was open to all students interested in learning about Chinese language and culture.

Teachers and professors from Shangdong Province teamed up with local Chinese teachers in the ACT to teach a range of arts, crafts and skills such as clay sculpture, Chinese knots, calligraphy, traditional Chinese painting, Peking Opera styles of makeup, paper-cuts, dancing and martial arts. Scroll down the page HERE to see some of their work. 

The camp was supported by the China Overseas Exchange Association (Qiaoban), Shandong Overseas Exchange

2. Pilot course at FCCCI Chinese School

The FCCCI Chinese School is trying new ways to inspire students to build on their family languages. At a workshop for parents and teachers in November 2013, the school reported on a trail of a new series of text books written by Dr Liping Ma from Sitanfu Chinese School in the San Francisco Bay Area for children from Mandarin-speaking families. 

The results of the pilot class using Book 1 in the series in 2013 have been remarkable in terms of students' Chinese proficiency and engagement with language learning. For example, one boy who had refused to speak Mandarin at home is now speaking and enjoys going to weekend school. 

Book 1 focuses more on reading than writing, allowing more vocabulary to be introduced and thus more interesting stories, riddles and songs to be read by the students. Another key component is that parents are expected to help students go over they have learned in class during the week.

Due to the success of the pilot class, the school will continue with Book 2 in 2014 and also open another Grade 1 class if there is sufficient interest from parents.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Canberra Region Languages Forum Update November 2013

Some good news about language education plus information about language-related events and issues.

CLICK HERE for more details about:
  • Call from the local Bangladesh Australian community to celebrate mother tongue and heritage languages in Australia.
  • Languages Potluck Lunch, Saturday 30 November, for families raising children in more than one language and people interested in bilingual education.
  • Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Australian National Dictionary, Thursday 28 November 2013
  • Information about the revised draft Chinese and Italian curricula in the Australian Curriculum: Languages
  • Language news from the ACT Education and Training Directorate (innovative Indonesian Hub Model in two high schools, increasing numbers of students in Asian languages, including Year 12, Policy for languages education, 26 schools with sister school relationships in 9 countries
  • Languages at the ANU: Bonus points for high school students' ATAR if take a Language other than English, $1 million donation for Portuguese, Russian and Indigenous Australian languages, Intensive Summer courses in Mongolian and Arabic, Immersion workshops in Japanese and Chinese for students in Yr 10 and 11 in ACT region, support for CAP students to study in Asia or the Pacific, new centre for Hispanic Linguistics in Australia
  • Awards and Nominations for language champions in the ACT

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

National Curricula Languages

The draft Chinese and Italian curricula have been revised based on feedback from national consultation and the validation process. The revised documents are available for comment until 22 November 2013 (see links below). This is not a formal public consultation process. Formal feedback will be sought from state and territory education authorities through the ACARA Languages National Panel. 

Any written feedback from individuals or groups outside of the National Panel is welcome and should be emailed to languages@acara.edu.au by 22 November 2013. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Over 40 community languages schools instructors and teachers from over 40 languages will attend the 11th National Community Languages Schools Conference at Rydges Lakeside Hotel London Circuit Canberra Saturday 12 October commencing at 9.30am.

Delegates from throughout Australia will blend together in a tapestry of diversity around the common goal of delivering strong linguistic and cultural maintenance programs to over 100 000 students in 71 languages.

The Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minster for Education and Training Ms Joy Burch will open the conference at 10.00am and provide participants with an overview and support for community languages schools.

The conference theme partners in delivering language education in Australia reflects the strong role community languages schools play in linguistic and cultural maintenance and the endeavour to build meaningful partnerships with students, families and the community.

The conference will look at strengthening relation with mainstreams schools, principal; and school council associations and inter community activities.

It will also examine the role of community language schools in the new proposed national languages curriculum.

A range of workshops will lead teachers and instructors in examining leading practices and classroom teaching strategies.

“Today we see students, parents, school communities working in partnership in ensuring languages are maintained and taught with the highest degree of effectiveness” President ACT Community Language Schools, Javad Mehr said.  

“This conference will set strong policy positions and also give practical advice on how to be effective teachers in the community languages schools setting and how to form and utilise partnership” Javad Mehr said.

“having such a great number of participants from so many backgrounds, gathered together, committed and focussed, is again a reflection of how diversity is respected and used practically for the benefit of Australia” Javad Mehr Said.  

The conference is being hosted by ACT Community Language Schools Association.                                     Further information – Javad Mehr 0412 222 473

To find out more about community language schools CLICK HERE

Monday, September 2, 2013

Learning a new language alters brain development

The age at which children learn a second language can have a significant bearing on the structure of their adult brain, according to a new joint study by the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro at McGill University and Oxford University. The majority of people in the world learn to speak more than one language during their lifetime. Many do so with great proficiency particularly if the languages are learned simultaneously or from early in development.
The study concludes that the pattern of brain development is similar if you learn one or two language from birth. However, learning a second language later on in childhood after gaining proficiency in the first (native) language does in fact modify the brain’s structure, specifically the brain’s inferior frontal cortex. The left inferior frontal cortex became thicker and the right inferior frontal cortex became thinner. The cortex is a multi-layered mass of neurons that plays a major role in cognitive functions such as thought, language, consciousness and memory.

The study suggests that the task of acquiring a second language after infancy stimulates new neural growth and connections among neurons in ways seen in acquiring complex motor skills such as juggling. The study’s authors speculate that the difficulty that some people have in learning a second language later in life could be explained at the structural level.

“The later in childhood that the second language is acquired, the greater are the changes in the inferior frontal cortex,” said Dr. Denise Klein, researcher in The Neuro’s Cognitive Neuroscience Unit and a lead author on the paper published in the journal Brain and Language. “Our results provide structural evidence that age of acquisition is crucial in laying down the structure for language learning.”

Using a software program developed at The Neuro, the study examined MRI scans of 66 bilingual and 22 monolingual men and women living in Montreal. The work was supported by a grant from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada and from an Oxford McGill Neuroscience Collaboration Pilot project.

The Neuro
The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital — The Neuro, is a unique academic medical centre dedicated to neuroscience. Founded in 1934 by the renowned Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro is recognized internationally for integrating research, compassionate patient care and advanced training, all key to advances in science and medicine. The Neuro is a research and teaching institute of McGill University and forms the basis for the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre.  Neuro researchers are world leaders in cellular and molecular neuroscience, brain imaging, cognitive neuroscience and the study and treatment of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders. For more information, visit theneuro.com.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Canberra Region Languages Forum Update August 2013

1. New ANU Language teaching forum: second Monday of every month, 4 - 5.30pm, followed by drinks & nibbles. 

2. A Forum on Mandarin Education the ACT region, ANU, Saturday 10 August 2013

3. Homestay host families needed for international students attending ACT public schools.

4. Time to apply for the ACT government's Participation (multicultural) grants program.

Full details in the Update available HERE  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Protest about the abolition of language courses at University of Canberra

Where?  Lawns of Parliament House, Canberra

When: Friday 12 July, starting at 4pm.  

For more information see www.facebook.com/events/664490400232555/ 

LINGUA LOCA: Workshop for poets who write in a language other than English

10 am - 5.30pm, Sunday 4 August, Gorman House Arts Centre.

Only 12 free places available!

Applicants must write a paragraph about themselves,  including cultural background and send a copy of a poem that they have written, in English, no more than two pages in length, to the ACT Writers Centre at admin@actwriters.org.au by Friday, July 26. Enquiries to 6262 9191. 

A joint project between the ACT Writers Centre and the Community Cultural Inclusion Officer - Tuggeranong Arts Centre 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Threatened closure of language programs at the University of Canberra (UC)

The UC Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Parker announced on Friday 24 May 2013 that, in response to the Federal Government’s ‘Efficiency Dividend’, “UC would discontinue its own teaching of elective majors in Chinese, Japanese and Spanish all of which are available at the ANU but which are too small at UC, in [his] view, to be viable.”

An hour earlier the six permanent academic staff of the Languages program were told the same and that they would be made redundant. All teaching of Languages would thus be transferred to ANU. No financial data was presented.

This decision is in direct contrast to UC’s public position on internationalisation and the value of globalised higher education. Staff in the Languages programs at UC and ANU were not consulted about the decision to cut languages at UC. 

This decision raises a number of issues:

1.      How will current students continue their language studies?
The programs at UC and ANU differ, and there are problems with timetabling across two campuses, in addition to the financial and time costs for students forced to access both campuses, not to mention the difficult process of cross institutional enrolment.

2.      How will future students have equal access to tertiary language education?
Experience from other Australian cities has shown that teaching languages at only one tertiary institution means ultimately that numbers of students studying languages decline, instead of being supported.

3.      Given the recent White Paper declaring this century the Asian Century how is this in the national interest? 

Clearly the focus is on Asia, but the VC is pulling the plug on all of its languages including two of the key Asian languages, Chinese and Japanese. The rhetoric and reality are quite different.

4.      How will UC be able to respond to the increase in student enrollments anticipated as a result of the new national curriculum being rolled out in 2014 for languages? 

From 2014 onwards all students from K-10 will learn a language as part of the Australian national curriculum. This initiative will dramatically increase the numbers of students with language learning experience. The flow on effect of this will mean that students will study languages at the tertiary level. How will this need be met if not by both UC and ANU continuing to offer its language programs?
UC programs are of the highest quality and receive constant positive feedback from students. Languages staff have also been awarded Australian and UC awards for teaching excellence. 

For the above-mentioned reasons, the staff listed below are distraught about this short-sighted decision. They seek to reverse this decision and would be grateful for your support by contacting the leadership of the University of Canberra as soon as possible to express your concern:

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canberra, Professor Stephen Parker can be contacted by email at Stephen.parker@canberra.edu.au

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) Professor Nick Klomp, can be contacted by email at dvceducation@canberra.edu.au

The Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design, Professor Lyndon Anderson, can be contacted by email at Lyndon.anderson@canberra.edu.au

The students have also started a petition, it is at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-language-studies-at-uc/signatures.html

Dr. Nicolette Bramley (Lecturer, Japanese)
Dr Jose Antonio Gonzalez (Assistant Professor, Spanish)
Dr. Yuko Kinoshita (Senior Lecturer, Japanese)
Dr. Naikan Tao (Assistant Professor, Chinese)
Dr. Laura Tolton (Assistant Professor, Spanish)
Dr. Felicia Zhang (Senior Lecturer, Chinese)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Canberra Region Languages Forum Update May 2013

The May Update has details about:
  • Draft K-10 curriculum for Arabic, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Spanish and Vietnamese in Australian schools, plus draft Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages now available for public consultation 
  • Japanese and Chinese language majors may disappear at WA’s Curtin University
  • New Portuguese language program launched at ANU
  • Canberra's French-Australian Preschool open day, 11am  2pm, Saturday 1 June
  • Traditional German lantern walk in Canberra, 5-6.30pm Sunday 16 June
  • Multilingual potluck lunch, 11am-1pm Saturday 29 June
  • Language conferences at the ANU in July: Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities (LCNAU) conference, Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations (AFMLTA) National Conference,  National Chinese Teachers' Conference, 2013 Japanese Studies Association of Australia (JSAA) Conference 
  • LCNAU Public Lecture: Languages, the Asian Century White Paper, and Three Provocations for the Committed from a Pragmatic Humanist. 5.30pm Thursday 4 July
  • Forum on Mandarin language education in the ACT, Saturday 10 August at the ANU
CLICK HERE for details

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The future of Chinese dialects

The standardization of Mandarin and its promotion and enforcement as the national language in the PRC has done much to break down language barriers within the country. In addition, the use of Pǔtōnghuà as a lingua franca has greatly helped China’s economic and social development. But this has come at a cost to various dialects, which are arguably an integral part of each region’s habits, culture, and unique characteristics.

A project has recently started to record and archive audio clips from a variety of areas in China to help preserve language for future generations. If you are interested in finding out more, or getting involved, have a look at the Phonemica website at http://phonemica.net/

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Alliance Française de Canberra School holiday program

Open to all levels and ages from pre-kindy (3-4 yrs old), kindy (5-6), children  (7-11) to teens (12-17). 

Monday 15 - Friday 19 April 2013, 9.30am - 12.30pm. Price $215, Morning Tea Included.  

Bookings essential. For more details: phone 6247 5027, email enquiries@afcanberra.com.au  or visit www.afcanberra.com.au 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Languages Forum March Update

The March Forum Update has information about the following language-related activities and issues:
  • Raising Children in more than one Language - Seminar, Saturday 23 March, University of Canberra 
  • Opportunities to learn and practice languages free of charge:
    • Online via Libraries ACT
    • Mandarin Chinese by meeting native speakers of Mandarin living in Canberra
  • Language enrolments up at ANU in 2013
  • ABS may exclude census questions on ancestry and country of birth of parents from the 2016 census – have your say (closing date for submissions 31 May 2013).
  • Deadline for comment on language learning area in draft Australian Curriculum Languages - 12 April 2013
To see the Update, CLICK HERE 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Canberra Region Languages Forum Update February 2013

The February Update contains information about: 
  • Languages at the Multicultural Festival in Civic Friday 8 February - Sunday 10 February 2013
  • Free language related activities for children at the Multicultural Festival on Saturday 9 Feb, and at Gungahlin Library Thursday, 7 and 14 February 
  • A chance to publicise language programs and find out about local language-related activities at the festival on Sunday 10 Feb
  • New language programs at ANU: Diploma of Languages and Portuguese language unit.
  • Free language resources in many languages, including children's books from around the world
  • AIATSIS public forum: Language Revitalisation, Wed 13 February 2013, 1:30-3.30pm
  • Seminar for families raising children in more than one language, Saturday 23 March, University of Canberra
  • How to comment on the draft curriculum for Italian and Mandarin languages in Australian schools 
  • Language conferences in Canberra in July 2013:  Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities (LCNAU), 3 -5 July, Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations 5-8 July, National Chinese Teachers' Conference, July 6 and 7
  • News from the telephone interpreter service (TIS) national
  • Resources from the Dept of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) 
CLICK HERE to see the full Update 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ACT Bilingual Education Alliance Update January 2013

The January Update is now available on the Alliance website    It contains information about:
  •  Language related activities at the Children’s Sanctuary at the Multicultural Festival in Canberra on Saturday 9 February.
  • The ACTBEA languages information stall at the Multicultural Festival on Sunday 10 February
  • Multicultural Story Time and Stories from China at Gungahlin Library, 7 and 14 February 2013
  • Lantern Festival in Commonwealth Park, Canberra, Saturday 23 February, 6pm to 9pm, and a Lantern-making workshop the previous week
  • Preliminary announcement: Seminar for families raising children in more than one language, Saturday 23 March, 2pm-5pm, University of Canberra
  • Where to find free children’s books and other resources in many languages  
  • ‘Snippets for Bilingual Families’, a free newsletter from Dr Susanne Döpke, Melbourne-based consultant in bilingualism and speech pathologist.
  • A range of exciting German Language programs for children in the ACT in 2013
  • The draft national curriculum for Italian and Mandarin in Australian schools

Friday, January 11, 2013

Draft Curriculum for Italian and Mandarin Languages in Australian Schools 

The draft national curriculum for Mandarin and Italian languages from Reception (i.e. Kindergarten) level to Year 10 is now available online. ACARA (the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) is seeking feedback and comments by Friday 12 April 2013.

ACARA also welcomes feedback on the overarching aspects of the Languages Learning Area that apply to all languages, and encourages all stakeholders with an interest in languages to contact them during this consultation period.

See http://consultation.australiancurriculum.edu.au/for information on how to access the curriculum and how to provide comments and feedback.

Draft curricula in other languages should be available after April 2013, and comments on these will be sought by July 2013.