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Leading languages education

Volume 7 Number 2 February 14 - March 13 2011

The rise of languages study under the Melbourne Model shows it remains in demand if the course structure is right, according to the National Director of the new Tertiary Languages Network. By Catriona May

Professor John Hajek from the School of Languages and Linguistics is optimistic about the new Network, which was launched in November last year, as well as the future of languages education in Australia.

Based at the University of Melbourne, but with a national remit, the Network will support the development of a stronger languages culture in Australian higher education. It is supported by a grant from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

Professor Hajek, who is also Languages Discipline Chair at the University, says the Network will create strong links between institutions. “The lack of strategic connections among institutions and among actual practitioners [in the tertiary languages sector] is impeding the spread of good practice,” he says.

“This project will allow us to develop a national approach to languages education, and foster leadership across institutions and disciplines, so that we can provide the best possible languages education for Australian students,” he says.

Professor Joseph Lo Bianco from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education is President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He led the initial planning stages for the Network.

He says it will help meet the urgent need to increase participation in languages education and raise awareness of its importance.

“The Tertiary Languages Network will provide a co-ordinated voice for the promotion of languages education within and beyond our universities,” he says. “It will also support the small and struggling languages by sharing lessons from the stronger ones, link University languages education with outside providers to enrich the curriculum, and co-ordinate research priorities.”

The Tertiary Languages Network is part of the Australian Academy of the Humanities’ Leadership for Future Generations project. It is led by Professor Hajek with Professor Lo Bianco and Professor Colin Nettelbeck (University of Wollongong), Professor Kerry Dunne (University of Wollongong), Dr Lynne Li (RMIT University), Professor Kent Anderson (Australian National University) and Associate Professor Marko Pavlyshyn (Monash University).