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Key idea 1: Why languages?

The context of globalisation has brought to the fore linguistic and cultural diversities as well as technological changes particularly in communication on the one hand, together with changes in the field of languages education on the other hand, invite us to reconsider the goals and very nature of learning languages. Central to this reconsideration are the learners themselves in their diversity and the recognition that they themselves are linguistically and culturally situated as they learn additional languages. In this context how can language/s learning be made more meaningful for them?


More discussions can be found on the key idea 1 forum.


Rethinking languages learning: student perspectives 

Video transcript for Rethinking languages learning: student perspectives

Angela: [00:00:02] The question that we're going to pose this afternoon is: How well do we actually know who our learners are? And, one of the studies that really impressed me, because, for once, it was a study that actually asked the learners themselves. And we talk about student voice and so on, but we've got to more frequently ask the students themselves. And, in this study, Joe found that the student interest is strong, but the programs are academically weak. The students want schools and teachers to fix it, but ask us. Fix it, but ask us. [00:00:54][51.5]

Angela: [00:00:54] So, there was a feeling that not all is well in their language learning for these students of Japanese and Italian in Melbourne. And they wanted it fixed. In other words, they wanted to stay with language learning, but they wanted some of their issues fixed, but ask us. [00:01:12][18.5]

Angela: [00:01:13] In other words, don't make your unilateral decisions which of course is so easy. And I always look at needs assessment in that regard and we say, "oh, needs assessment in language learning". And has it occurred to you, that somehow, the students' needs under needs assessment always end up being expressed in curriculum terms? [00:01:37][24.4]

Angela: [00:01:38] Well, students don't speak curriculumese. So what's happened in that process that we suddenly describe "students' needs" in inverted commas, and it ends up being in curriculum speak? So in other words, we kind of half listen in needs assessment, but we then put our own overlays onto it. [00:02:01][22.9]

Angela: [00:02:03] Now, let's be careful again. I'm not saying that the students' voice is the sole voice, but what I am saying is that if we would want engaging education, we've got ... languages education, we've got to ask the learners, we've got to know the learners. And, so what Joe says in this quote: "This is a call for improvement, in terms of both the quality and rigour. The students decry the programs, saying, "It's a bludge!" But they do not mean by this that they enjoy the fact that the program demands little of them. The Q-sort evidence is clear: the students are not saying in the face of what they interpret to be poor provision that the program should be terminated. Instead they are demanding improvement." And our job in knowing our learners is to understand something about how this can possibly ... how this work that we're doing, this activity that we've organized, this experience that we've organized, how can that be meaningful to the learners themselves? How can it become memorable? [00:03:17][74.9]

Angela: [00:03:24] That's the actual book, and this is the study that Joe Lo Bianco did with Renata Aliani. And, what they actually propose in the study is that they're interested in communication, but they actually want to learn more. It's clear to me that this pitter patter of buying train tickets and so on, they've had enough of that already. And they also want excursions. But then, we know well that students always like excursions. And obviously, in this domain, they see the value of overseas and you know trips overseas would obviously be important. They also say, teach us the culture as well as the language. They're certainly saying less worksheets. It's boring. It's tedious. They don't want it. What they want instead, is real-life experiences. And I didn't know that at the time of this particular volume coming out, but I too, I have changed my sense of ... in my work with teachers, I no longer talk about activities and tasks, but I actually talk about experiences because it is experiences that make that moment of learning memorable. And we have to make the learning of languages much more memorable. So, experiences more than a task or an activity. [00:05:15][110.7]

Michelle: [00:05:16] But we can't just keep going on excursions every day. So, how do we get experience? Do we need to think about experience differently? [00:05:23][7.4]

Angela: [00:05:24] There are so many things that we can do in the classroom in terms of juxtaposing texts. It's not just one text that we drill to death, but we bring in different perspectives, different points of view. Those too are rich meaningful experiences in the then and now. [00:05:44][20.3]

Michelle: [00:05:45] So the class, the classroom, is an experience in itself? [00:05:49][4.1]

Angela: [00:05:50] Absolutely. It's an experience in itself. And I think that it is the discussion and reflective work around the task that puts it in perspective, tells the students or guides the students into thinking why this matters so much. What is the real significance of doing this? Why should I bother? It's kind of built in. You don't get up and say, "Well, you should bother because this is good for you" or, "This is important." But, through the actual experience of looking at these multiple texts, that you get a real buzz of saying, "Wow! I can see that if you are an insider you have this kind of perspective, but if you are an outsider to that culture you will see it in a completely different way." And so we create the moments - they have to be created as moments in the classroom. And, I think that it's ... well, our work with teachers, Michelle, shows that teachers are eminently capable of doing this. [00:06:53][62.9]

Michelle: [00:06:53] I think another thing for me that I've reflected on is the idea that there has to be something memorable and often memory is associated with our emotions and our connection and the kind of reactions we have and that they seem to be the memorable moments. And so inviting students to think about their emotional connection, their affective connection, the sort of the impact and so on through our tasks, I think. And, what I've moved to more and more are texts that actually provoke some sort of reaction. I mean, sometimes it happens anyway, even in what appears to be a very ... [00:07:33][40.3]

Angela: [00:07:33] Like your polygamy text. [00:07:34][0.7]

Michelle: [00:07:35] That's right. You know, but texts that invite the students to have to take a position or to see something and consider their own reaction to it. I think those ... and we're very good at providing very sanitized, I call them sanitized, or you know, texts, and often our textbooks are like that. And, we really need some of those authentic texts to really kind of provoke the emotional connection that the memory, the understandings that students will take on to the next experience. [00:08:08][33.5]

Angela: [00:08:08] Yes, and I think that there's another resource in the classroom that we ignore at our peril. And, that is the resource of the diversity of the students themselves. We can read texts. And how engaging it is to actually see that different people in our own classroom respond differently to the same text, or the same scenario, or the same experience. Whatever it is that is the prompt for our engagement. Just then pulling out those different ways in which different students have responded, opens up a conversation about comparison and then we can say, "Why did Michelle understand it in that way, whereas Anna understood it in a completely different way? Where does that difference in understanding actually come from? Why is it like that?" And really getting into the why. I think that the students are calling out for more depth, a much more intellectualized engagement because it's through that that they come to understand themselves better and the phenomenon of communicating across languages and cultures much, much more strongly. [00:08:08][0.0]

End of transcript.

Rethinking communicative language teaching

Video transcript for rethinking communicative language teaching

Michelle: [00:00:01] When I was teaching at Salisbury East High School I had a really tough year there. And, I had some year nine students ... two classes of year nines and, really, really hard work. It was compulsory at that point. I was teaching Indonesian. That's my language. And, you know, they didn't want to be there, and I wasn't sure if I wanted them to be there. Of course I did, but you know what I mean ...It was hard, hard work. And that year taught me a huge amount. [00:00:31][29.8]

Michelle: [00:00:32] And one of the things that actually started me on thinking was, what am I trying to teach these kids? They don't want to be here. Well, I shouldn't say all of them. Some of them did. But, you know, there was a fair bit of resistance and it really made me reflect. There was one night in particular that I had stayed up all night doing this beautiful communicative activity. You know, they were ... had little cards, and I was going to give them a certain amount of money and they had to go around to different people who were offering transport and you know they had to exchange and barter and all of these sorts of things had all the qualities of a really sound communicative language activity. When I took it to the classroom the next day, it bombed big time. And ... and, you know, I couldn't believe it because it should have, in terms of all the theories and so on, it should have worked well. And so I just said, "Right, everybody stop. Put down what you're doing. Just get out a pen and paper." And they said, "Oh! Are you going to give us a test?" And I said, "No, I'm not going to give you a test. Let's just put aside what we're doing and I just want you to answer one question." So, you know, they busily got themselves organized. And they knew that I was really serious by this point. And ... and I said to them, you know, "Why are you not doing this activity in Indonesian?" And that was all I asked them - why? And they were very honest in their answers. And essentially, they said, "Why should we? What interest is it to us to do this in Indonesian?" And it fundamentally really challenged my idea of what I was doing. And, you know, this idea of you're going to use this language. They were telling me, "We ain't gonna use this language." And so, since that time, that planted the seed for me of: what am I doing? Why am I doing it? And it really started to expand my rationale and change what I started to do with them, and ever since. So, you know, these sorts of moments are the moments that really get us to question our own stance, our own rationales, our own thinking and our practice. [00:02:47][135.3]

Angela: [00:02:53] What were the ingredients that you had considered in the design of the task and then how did you come to understand that you needed to change that in order to make it more meaningful for your students? [00:03:07][14.2]

Michelle: [00:03:09] Well, what I was trying to do, it was a unit of work around bargaining, which is a very common topic. So the students had been working on all sorts of language around questioning and raising the price and lowering the price and all of the haggling kind of language. And so I wanted to put that into a context for them. And so I had a number of stations, so, of different kinds of transport and then students were provided with a card saying how much rupiah, the currency, how much rupiah they had, where they needed to go, and how much that should cost them roughly. And then they had to go around and choose the best form of transport with the money that they had. And, of course, in the process, do some of the negotiating. And what I found was that it very quickly broke down. Of course, we had some students who were, you know, diligently doing the task and going around and trying to barter with the people at the stations, but a significant number of them had totally ... they were doing it but it was largely in English. And so I was curious to find out why weren't they using Indonesian, why wouldn't they enter into that communicative space and they just reverted to do English. And so that's what I then explored with them by stopping the activity and asking them. [00:04:34][84.4]

Angela: [00:04:35] Well done you. [00:04:36][0.4]

Michelle: [00:04:36] Just to honestly explain to me. And, they clearly told me that they had no interest in being becak drivers ... in being the people on the transport. In entering into this because they didn't see themselves as going to Indonesia. So, this notion of preparing for some day when they might, that was too far away. Their immediate worlds were more important to them. And so it really made me rethink about what could I do that was more immediate and more meaningful for them. I stopped doing the 'pretend you are' kind of ideas and I actually asked them, "What sort of things do you want to be learning about?" And they were saying to me things like, "We want to see Indonesian television. Do they watch the same programmes? What's that like?" And so, we actually spent a couple of lessons just watching television and talking about the different programs and because they could see ... we watched a sitcom. Now, the language was quite high level and complex, and I wouldn't do that all the time, but in terms of providing a rich diet for them, they wanted to see inside that world and they could pick up little bits of the language and so on. I gave them captions and we did language work around it, but really though, they were keen to peer inside. [00:05:56][80.3]

Angela: [00:05:58] See with their own two eyes. [00:05:58][0.5]

Michelle: [00:05:58] That's right. And not do pretend things, but to actually enter into a more authentic space. [00:06:04][5.7]

Angela: [00:06:05] Yes. It's not a question of repairing that particular task, but rather beginning from scratch, recognizing the kind of interactive experiences that we would propose within an intercultural orientation, where you have to create the dissonance. You actually have to create ideas that are juxtaposed or rub against each other in some way, in order to push the thinking further forward. [00:06:37][31.4]

Michelle: [00:06:38] Or even another example that I did later in the year, once I'd canvassed more with the students, was that they wanted to use the language, but to meet some real people. Now, at the time, it was prior to email and so on and so it wasn't easy to have a sister school or something like that, which is what I do now. But, what we did was we wrote letters to another school that was learning Indonesian here in South Australia. And, the students wrote to each other a couple of times. Now, I've never seen my ... or, I had never seen my students, largely boys, and the other class was largely girls, you know there was some ... for them it was, you know, they were desperate to find out what their responses had been. And then we actually ... So once they had exchange letters introducing themselves and so on, we actually then had an excursion where we all met up. And so they were dead keen to find out who was on the other end of these letters and actually meet them in person. And so, trying to, again, work from who they are and making it real, having an exchange. Yes, they could have written in English. I mean, there was a degree of inauthenticity in that sense, except that they were all learners of Indonesian. So, there was a sense of it being valid. [00:08:05][87.2]

Angela: [00:08:06] A common activity. [00:08:06][0.0]

Michelle: [00:08:06] That's right. But then, the chance to meet up and have that sort of experience, was highly motivating for that group. [00:08:06][0.0]

End of transcript.

Why a multilingual orientation? 

Video transcript for why a multilingual orientation?

Michelle: [00:00:02] Angela, there seems to be a bit of a shift occurring at the moment in terms of how we understand the nature and purpose of language teaching and learning. Can you give us a sense of how you understand that? [00:00:12][9.5]

Angela: [00:00:13] I think that we would have to say that there's been, and we're in the middle of a paradigm shift. Every now and then we get, we make, changes regularly and all the time, but every now and then, there comes a moment when the change is much more marked. And, the situation in our world is such now that we really do need to rethink our ways and means of communicating, and understanding the processes of communicating. The big shift is that we are moving from seeing language learning as a monolingual endeavour. [00:00:52][39.3]

Angela: [00:00:54] A monolingual approach is the traditional approach that we have normally had. We have treated the teaching of a language as if it were the only language that existed in the world, and as if it were the only language that the students actually had. And so, it is a world ... [00:01:16][22.0]

Angela: [00:01:16] I remember when I started teaching German as a beginning teacher, the teacher's manual told me to speak only in German, not to use any writing, but just to speak, speak, speak German. I spent a whole lesson drawing stick figures on the board, drawing you name it, you know. I would have turned myself inside out because I was going to do as I was told and I was told to just speak German for the first six units of that book. I will never forget it. [00:01:59][42.3]

Angela: [00:01:59] And that day, I understood that I could have simply said, "This German word means X in English" and we would have done it in two minutes, had I permitted myself to use, or had I been permitted to use, English. But because I was dead set on doing what this method required of me, I did it all in German and wasted a lesson when I could have had a very simple strategy. [00:02:31][31.6]

Angela: [00:02:33] For whichever language learner we might be talking about, we're actually, we have to recognise that there are multiple languages at play. The learner comes with his or her own language, English, other languages, and is learning an additional language. In learning that additional language, at every moment for that student, there are at least two languages at play: the language of their home and the language being learnt. [00:03:06][33.6]

Angela: [00:03:08] From the learning point of view, we also need to appreciate that, at any point in the learning process, we say that students need to connect their new learning to their prior learning. When a student is learning Chinese, and let us say that that student is an English-speaking student, the only thing that, the prior learning that that student can connect the new Chinese language to, new for him or her, is the language that they already have. So, it is the home language, let us say for an English-speaking student, it's connecting to their English. And so the very process of actually learning the language is a multilingual process. The student is, in his or her mind, forever moving between the languages, singular or plural that they have, and the language that is being learnt. And it's in that sense that it is quintessentially a multilingual process. And I think that that has to be understood because it's just so liberating. [00:04:31][82.9]

Angela: [00:04:32] I was a student like that myself. I used the Italian that I had in order to access French that I was learning, and it was liberating - I never had to learn the vocab. I could look at the word and I knew the meaning because of my Italian. But, my teacher did not actually encourage me to do that. It was a movement that came spontaneously. I think it's a movement between the languages in learning that needs to be absolutely nurtured and fostered, promoted. [00:05:10][37.6]

Michelle: [00:05:11] But, I mean, you've used the example of Italian and French, which some people may say, "Well they're romance languages and therefore, you know, there's a lot of similarity, but, you know, it's a different proposition for someone English to Chinese or ..." [00:05:23][11.3]

Angela: [00:05:23] Of course. [00:05:23][0.1]

Michelle: [00:05:24] You know, similar examples. [00:05:25][0.9]

Angela: [00:05:26] Of course, but that's where the metalanguage comes in. And, if we have the metalanguage, a noun, a verb, in its most simple forms, but then, you know, expressiveness through use of adjectives, relating episodes in time through the use of tenses, we do that in English and we can transfer those notions to Chinese or whatever the language happens to be. And so we find, for example, with tenses that they certainly operate differently in Chinese from the way they operate in French. It's absolutely liberating to know that in Chinese you can just mark time by the use of the time marker itself, 'yesterday', 'tomorrow', and so on. In French, it's the whole verb system that needs to be learnt and invoked in order to achieve the same thing. But you see, we're not teaching about tenses as such, but we're teaching students about how to relate events, episodes, experiences in time and so they come to appreciate that this can be done in different ways, in different languages. So they're drawing their understanding of tenses in English to appreciate how and why it works as it does in Chinese. That makes for much deeper learning. [00:07:04][98.1]

Angela: [00:07:05] Students have to appreciate that even saying "hello" to someone, you've got to decide, in relation to greetings, which one is going to be appropriate. Because it's not just a question of having the vocabulary, but it's also a question of marking the relationship that we have. So, if you are an elder or a person that demands, you know, some distance, you would then use, in French, you would address them with 'vous'. If it's a person that you know really well, you would address them with 'tu'. In English we just have the word 'you' and that's it. In French, we mark that distinction. If we go to Japanese, it's a language that really marks the hierarchy of relationships. That's contained within the language itself. But the phenomenon is, at the same time, cultural. [00:08:17][71.3]

Angela: [00:08:18] And so, you know, we are moving between language and the cultural envelope of that phenomenon that we happen to be talking about simultaneously. So, in order for me to teach you greetings or how to address a person in French, I would have to talk about how we do that in English, we simply do it in one way. In French, we have to make a distinction between whether it's a child to an adult, whether it is a familiar person or not. And so, we need to explain all of that. That's also part of the meta conversation. And it happens in the greetings and addressing people is a very simple example. [00:09:13][55.2]

Angela: [00:09:14] At every level, whatever phenomenon we talk about, what I've just described there actually is in place. It's linguistic and it's cultural. And, we come from the languages and cultures that we know, entering into the space of an additional language which is a world that we don't know and we are trying to navigate that movement. And, as we navigate, we are also inviting students to stand back from that process and think: "Okay, what was going on there?" Such that they develop this meta understanding of what's involved in that exchange. [00:10:03][48.4]

Michelle: [00:10:04] I was just thinking of an example in Indonesian, which is the language I teach. One of the hardest things for students to learn in Indonesian is the passive voice. [00:10:13][8.7]

Angela: [00:10:13] Oh, yes. [00:10:14][0.4]

Michelle: [00:10:14] Because, for, particularly English speakers, we tend to put the subject first. And so there is a strong focus on 'I' or 'we' or, you know, the agents, the actors. So, a lot of our sentences are constructed with that subject focus. But, and it's a bit of a cliché, but there is some truth to it, that very often, in Indonesian, it'd be the case that the object or what is affected comes first. And so students find it very hard to swing around their thinking about who is doing what to whom. And so you have to actually engage in, you know, who are the doers, who are the those affected by the actions and so on. So you need to actually go to that more abstract level so that they can actually begin to feel, they actually have to get inside that way of thinking in order to do the language in an appropriate way. [00:11:10][56.4]

Angela: [00:11:11] Is that what they call the 'object focus'? [00:11:12][1.4]

Michelle: [00:11:13] Object focus or passive voice, it's called both. [00:11:15][1.9]

Angela: [00:11:16] Yes, it's the same. Okay. Yes. And to actually shift from 'I' as the centre to having to really turn yourself virtually inside out to say, it's not me, it's the object that's the focus ... [00:11:35][19.4]

Michelle: [00:11:36] That's right. [00:11:36][0.0]

Angela: [00:11:36] ... is monumental. [00:11:36][-0.0]

Michelle: [00:11:36] And what we've tended to do is say, "Well, this is the rule and follow the rule and learn the rule." But if you don't have the feeling or the insight into, you know, the relationship of objects and actions and so on, if you don't have that world view, really, then you can learn the grammar all you like, but you'll never actually be able to generate it in a sort of a natural sense. [00:11:58][21.7]

Angela: [00:11:59] And that cultural dimension that this way of being in relation to another is as much cultural as it is linguistic. And we tended to highlight the linguistic, not the cultural. [00:12:17][18.5]

Angela: [00:12:18] Now, as Michelle says, you can teach that as a rule, which is what we've done, but there's more to it than that. And that's why we're saying that, with the kind of paradigm that we're in now, the students need to be performers, users of the language, but also stand back and become analysers of the language. [00:12:44][25.9]

Angela: [00:12:45] You know, if the student did not quite understand the object focus construction and began, you know, lunged forth with the 'I', how would that be received by an Indonesian person? So, we've been good at grammatical analysis in language learning. We've actually also been good at the analysis of ideas in text, but we're not as ... we haven't foregrounded as strongly, this notion of, what are the consequences in cultural terms if you actually use one construction rather than another? [00:13:32][47.0]

Liam: [00:13:40] Teaching in some or one of my schools with different students in a multicultural context has been really good. I'm a teacher Indonesian and I have students that speak Hindi and other Southeast Asian languages. And Sanskrit is something that kind of leads through to other languages, and they've been able to discover words and understand languages from their own perspectives and bring their own languages into the classroom. [00:14:00][19.8]

Angela: [00:14:01] Fabulous! More of it is all that we can say. [00:14:03][2.6]

Angela: [00:14:04] Now, of course, I want to be very clear, it's not as though you're not still teaching Indonesian. Indonesian is prime. And yes, English is all around your Indonesian classroom. But being attentive to those languages, and just a sentence to say, "and how does that happen in Hindi?" opens up that conversation. It's not stopping what we do in Indonesian, but it is showing and being open to all the rest. Any other manifestations of how you yourselves are dealing with this kind of diversity? [00:14:43][39.2]

George: [00:14:46] But often I'm really enjoying at the moment of discussing with kids the origin of the English language in the context of the Chinese language and the philosophic backgrounds of how in Latin and in Chinese the concept of the universe and unity and one. And you ask the kids, "how many words do you know of that have 'uni' in them?" and that brings in a total different discussion. [00:15:14][28.0]

Angela: [00:15:15] I found the reflection of an ethnic schools teacher on Saturday when we were running a conference for ethnic schools, and she was a Greek teacher, and she said, "Angela, how many words in the English language come from Greek? At least 50 per cent. And the other 50 percent come from Latin." She said, "That's what I'm teaching my students." And it's a little bit connected to the example that we have here of etymologies and whatever. Students find some of that kind of information and reflection absolutely fascinating. And those are two really strong examples. If we had time to rush across the whole room, we would find many, many more. That's exactly what we're talking about here. [00:16:05][50.0]

Angela: [00:16:06] We also have to think that each one of us is also situated in our own language and culture. I cannot stop thinking in French, in German, in Italian as I speak English. My whole world, my stance, my reality is punctuated, is influenced, is enmeshed with all of those languages - in everything that we do, in everything that I do, no matter which one I happen to be speaking. And so we, ourselves, as teachers, are situated. Every single one of our students is situated in his or her language and culture, and that language and culture, or those languages and cultures, provide us with our cultural home. We are at home in those languages. [00:17:10][63.8]

Angela: [00:17:11] And so, coupled with the languages that we bring, is all of the trajectory of our own experiences over a long period of time. That's also enmeshed, it's embodied in us. That's who we are as language teachers. That's how we present ourselves to our students. Our affiliations, our associations with particular languages and cultures are precisely what we can't help but communicate to our students. [00:17:43][32.3]

Angela: [00:17:45] And so there's an invitation here for a reflective moment as we think globally, to also come very, very personal to yourself and say, "What's my personal stance? How much of me and my linguistic and cultural repertoire do I share with my students? How does it come in to my teaching?" [00:17:45][0.0]

End of transcript.

Student profiling: why? 

Video transcript for student profiling: why? 

Angela: [00:00:03] In education in general we always talk about start with the learner, know your learners. Haven't we always done this? What is this theme of personalization with intercultural language learning all about? [00:00:20][16.3]

Michelle: [00:00:21] This approach really requires a deeper level of engaging with the learners, I think. Engaging with them in terms of their, who they are linguistically and culturally. So, really delving inside what they know, what they bring to their learning, what kinds of prior experiences, and picking up on the idea of interpretation, what are the interpretive lenses that they have in coming to learn a new language and culture. And so, because we're asking them to make a bridge or make a move towards another linguistic and cultural system, we actually need to know what that starting position looks like itself so that we can begin to graft on the new language and culture and begin that expansion work because this really is a project in expanding identity and expanding who learners can be and giving them new repertoires of being in relation to where they're starting from. So, I think for me ... [00:01:22][61.3]

Angela: [00:01:23] So the starting point is really consideration of their situatedness, where they are situated, where they live, where their home is linguistically and culturally speaking. [00:01:37][14.2]

Michelle: [00:01:38] And really, also consider who do they want to be ... [00:01:42][3.7]

Angela: [00:01:43] Yes. [00:01:43][0.0]

Michelle: [00:01:43] ... in learning this? Because I know, in my own teaching, that I've had some students outright reject the notion of being Indonesian. And, in fact, if I think of one of my PhD cases where there was a student who was very strident in saying, because the teacher was trying to explain a certain way of expressing something, and he said well, you know, I don't know. He was asking about: how do you say my street is dead? And he was in the country, and he was trying to say that 'this is a very isolated area'. "How do I say my street is dead?" And she was trying to explain, well you can't really use the word 'dead'. And Indonesian doesn't really have this sense of isolation in the same way. You know, when you have 250 million people, there are very few places that are 'dead' in the same sense. And, she said, "Well, you really have to think like an Indonesian." And he very quickly said, "Well I am not Indonesian." And he was marking the fact that this was not how he saw himself. And he really, probably, had little intention of wanting to see it that way. So, I think, when, you know, they're awkward moments, they're difficult moments for us because we want everyone to love our languages, but we actually have to recognize that sometimes they don't affiliate with it or they don't, to begin with perhaps. And so they need to be able to have some sense of what kind of connection they want with the language. And then we need to provide the opportunities for them to explore what those ways of being might be. [00:03:18][95.0]

Angela: [00:03:19] There's also the recognition that students bring multiple identities to the classroom. So, they may be of Vietnamese background. They may also be a child in a three generation family living together. They may also be in the local football club. They may also have memberships of other kinds. In other words, it's recognizing the multiple memberships that our students bring and therefore, with that, their multiple identities. But also that their ... none of this is static because they are continuing to build on their own trajectory of personal experiences. And it's through the eyes of that experience, that they make sense of what's going on in the classroom. And, I think, that that sense of personalization is, you know, the recognition of the multiplicity of the one person, is something that we tend to forget. It's just too easy to say, "Oh yeah, he's Vietnamese" and not recognize all the other memberships that that person actually brings. [00:04:43][83.7]

Angela: [00:04:44] So what do you think are the implications of this notion of the personal as part of our intercultural work? What are the implications of that for teachers? [00:04:56][12.4]

Michelle: [00:04:57] I think notions of these pretend scenarios where we position students in certain ways, we really need to think about because, I think, often the students are not wanting to be the roles that we're assuming that they could be. Communicative language teaching very much focussed on that. And so, I think, within an intercultural approach, we're actually asking them to be themselves a lot more and to be authentic in who they are and who they can be and who they want to be. And so, I think, as teachers, we need to think about those opportunities, the opportunities we design for students and really consider who they are in those tasks and experiences. [00:05:41][43.8]

Angela: [00:05:42] Yes, it reminds me of a little piece of research that I did in Malaysia, well with Malaysian teachers. And, it was really interesting to see the responses of the Malaysian students to the same examination questions as the students in Australia were also responding to. And, obviously, I analyzed all of the responses. And there was this real mixture of the students saying, you know, they needed to write a letter to an editor and they wrote it with an Australian address. But then, of course, in the body of the letter, they were talking about villagers and this bicycle accident and so on in the village, and I recognized from his response that you can't ask people to leave their own language and culture behind. This letter, his response, had all the markings of his Malaysian culture as he was trying to do this examination response in English. [00:06:52][69.7]

Michelle: [00:06:53] Is this the one where the task was to write a letter of complaint? [00:06:56][3.4]

Angela: [00:06:57] Yes, yes, that's right. And it brought in to play the different cultures around the idea of complaint and that, in the Malaysian way, you don't provide a full frontal complaint. And so he was trying to move around and force his language into a complaint which culturally did not sit comfortably with him. [00:07:21][24.5]

Angela: [00:07:22] When I interviewed the teachers and said, "How do you prepare your students for this examination?" They said, "Don't be Malaysian." The key advice that they give their students is: don't be Malaysian. [00:07:39][17.3]

Michelle: [00:07:40] Don't be yourselves. [00:07:41][0.4]

Angela: [00:07:41] Don't be yourselves. You can't ... If it's an English exam by an Australian examination authority the only thing you can do is try to be other than yourself - forgo your own identity in the hope of being successful. [00:07:59][17.2]

Angela: [00:08:00] The scripts showed, the responses showed, that the students can't leave themselves behind. They are still holding that pen. And so this raised for me, the really crucial question of who it is that we ask our students to be, how we position them. I wanted to stop immediately and give the teacher a lesson on maybe taking an intercultural stance instead of saying "don't be Malaysian." To say, well, you know, find a space in between the two that you are most comfortable with. It is an intercultural process of communication and you need to find your comfort zone within that. That would have been a different way of doing it. And so, in traditional language learning, there just isn't enough attention to positionality; how we are positioning the students; what that positioning actually means, in terms of their responses; teasing out the responses; inviting the students themselves to stand back from the response that they've made. I would have given that student his text and said, "Look, you know, you're saying that you're in Australia. There are these other markings that show you are somewhere else. How do you want to deal with this?" And then it becomes an opportunity for learning, which of course is not possible in the examination, but in a learning experience, it certainly is. [00:08:00][0.0]

End of transcript.

Student profiling: how? 

Video transcript for student profiling: how? 

Angela: [00:00:02] I'm going to tell you a story now about profiling language learners. And, how well do you know your learners and their lifeworlds'? This comes from an experience with teachers at the School of Languages and I know that there are many of you here and you've probably wondered what on earth is that thing. What does it actually mean? Quite colourful, quite interesting. [00:00:30][28.1]

Angela: [00:00:32] She asked her students to depict themselves as language learners, as language users and how languages matter in their lives. And, this is the drawing that she received, unexpectedly. She had not particularly said, you know, she said just represent your languages and cultures. And then, of course, she asked the student to write it in words. And let me say with you, I'll read it line-by-line: [00:01:06][34.8]

Angela: [00:01:09] This is my representation on how I sort of see myself in the viewing of a culturally perceptive eye. I called it, 'Past, present, language, culture'. [00:01:24][14.0]

Angela: [00:01:24] So, in the corner, he's thinking past, present, language, culture. Recognizing that his language is part of the past, but also here in the present. [00:01:39][15.0]

Angela: [00:01:40] I called it 'Past, present, language, culture' because I feel with my ethnic background that over the years I have extended myself in the understandings of the cultures around me, as well as developed to the culture I abide by, or perceive as "my" culture. [00:01:59][18.9]

Angela: [00:02:00] So far, so far ... Notice? 'So far' - opening to the future. [00:02:05][4.5]

Angela: [00:02:06] So far, I have grown up in a strict environment, where you must be independent from early on. Also, I feel, growing up and learning two languages (English and Polish) I saw two different sides of culture, values and ways of communication. [00:02:26][20.5]

Angela: [00:02:28] This is why I love languages so much. Along with learning Indonesian in the IB, which was the language he was learning at the School of Languages, I have also taken the responsibility to self-teach myself Arabic, and continue self-teaching Swedish from last year. Languages and culture have shaped me in a way that I feel so intrigued and fascinated by different ethnic values, backgrounds, styles of art, languages and the ways of life from perspective to routine - I feel like I get a better understanding of the world around me. [00:03:11][42.5]

Angela: [00:03:12] And you can see images from his Polish self. You can see images coming in there from the Arabic. You can see the different languages and that this is somehow meshed together into creating one holistic picture of who that student was linguistically and culturally speaking. Andrea had been teaching him for some time. This, of course, gave her a richness of information that she had simply not known. [00:03:49][36.5]

Angela: [00:03:51] We think that there is a lot of information about our students that is rich and oftentimes hidden. And so the question of 'how well do we know our learners?' It's not just in the interests of social chit chat and so on. Important though that also is, but how well do we know our learners such that we can facilitate with them, their making connections across their different languages and cultures, across the different experiences that they bring? What do you make of this? What have you seen in this? [00:04:35][43.5]

Fiona: [00:04:36] Well, because I'm trained in biology, it looks like a double membrane cell, cell membrane and the culture is seeping out of her. [00:04:43][6.2]

Angela: [00:04:43] Yes, yes, yes, indeed. This is the lovely thing about an artistic representation because we can see more and more in it as we go. I don't know if, in your own work, you have tried these kinds of activities. [00:05:02][19.0]

Angela: [00:05:04] This is the task, or this is the way that Andrea, herself, had actually asked the students to profile themselves. And so you've got the full display here. She's saying which languages I already speak, I have learned previously, I understand but maybe don't speak, I hear spoken around me. [00:05:28][23.6]

Angela: [00:05:28] And isn't it wonderful that across that first bar, Andrea is asking them to express, not only the ones that they do, that they're learning, of course, and the ones that they have in their background, but others that they might have encountered in some way? And so the recognition of all the languages and cultures that are somehow affiliated with the learner. [00:05:56][27.7]

Angela: [00:05:57] Add notes if you want to explain or clarify. So, Andrea was leaving it open to explain or clarify and certainly this student was more than willing to explain and clarify. She then goes to cultures and the different backgrounds, countries visited, have studied or currently studying the culture, regularly see the culture. She's trying to entertain, in the second bar, the different kinds of cultural affiliation that the students might have had. [00:06:34][37.1]

Angela: [00:06:35] And then optional. This was the optional part - draw an image that represents you linguistically and culturally. Feel free to add labels, headings and so on. And we saw the upshot of that. [00:06:50][15.0]

Angela: [00:06:51] Now the question is, first and foremost, have you ever actually profiled your learners? We are profoundly of the view, Michelle and I, that in this kind of orientation to language learning that we're talking about, the student, and understanding the student, is absolutely central. [00:07:15][23.9]

Angela: [00:07:17] Can you see that there are many, many, many different ways? When I was teaching in schools, I would put at the bottom of some kind of worksheet, it might have even been at the end of a test, a written test, and I'd have a couple of questions that would just fill my mind with more and more about the students. [00:07:37][20.5]

Angela: [00:07:38] Whichever way you use that is valuable information. It is, or, and I can guarantee that you will find out things about your students that you have not known before. And it's more than just, 'I like footy', or, 'I like tennis', or, 'I like watching blah, blah, blah on TV'. It's getting into some of the stuff as to what all of this means to the learners. [00:08:07][28.8]

Angela: [00:08:09] Two additional comments. One, it's only meaningful and worthwhile to do it, if we then take it seriously. And if we show our students that we're taking note of this information. And that it becomes visible in the work that we do with them. It's also important that it's not just a one-off event. That we actually do it periodically, organically - let it arise from the work that you're doing. But, every now and then, have another process that tells us more and more and more. [00:08:55][45.7]

Angela: [00:08:56] I could even see some of these profiles going up on a class site with due permissions and all the rest of it. The students would find each other's profiles absolutely fascinating. And we don't do enough of that crossover across the students that we have. They, themselves, are examples of diversity. We don't have to talk about diversity. It is live and present right there in front of us. Let us use it and let us work with it for each individual's learning and for collective learning. [00:08:56][0.0]

End of transcript.

Noticing languages in our world

Video transcript for noticing languages in our world

Angela: [00:00:01] And with each one of these images, take a look at what you see in each of the images that actually show us something of our world. So, what do you notice? What do these images actually convey to us? [00:00:18][16.8]

Angela: [00:00:21] We've only got three, but we could have had 103 - a whole succession of them. And what they are, are images of what we call our linguistic landscape. Language all around us in the world. And it happens that these are in particular environments - you'll recognize them. Let's go back to the first one just by way of example. What do you notice? Anybody at all. [00:00:51][30.0]

[00:00:52] The first thing I noticed was that there's at least three different signs with different languages and different cuisines that would be at those places with those signs. [00:01:01][8.8]

Angela: [00:01:01] Yeah. [00:01:01][0.0]

[00:01:02] Countries. [00:01:02][0.0]

Angela: [00:01:02] Yeah. And anything else? What do you notice about the architecture? [00:01:06][3.6]

[00:01:07] There's an Asian-inspired building. [00:01:11][4.1]

Angela: [00:01:13] Yes, yes. [00:01:13][0.1]

[00:01:13] And then, also you've got the images used to help convey meaning next to the words. So, if ... like, the colonel, KFC. [00:01:21][7.4]

Angela: [00:01:22] Absolutely. [00:01:22][0.0]

[00:01:22] And the colours used as well. [00:01:24][1.7]

Angela: [00:01:24] Yes, lovely point. It's not just language. It's all of the visual means that we have at our disposal to actually make meaning, and we want you to invite your students to notice all sorts of things. What else do you notice? [00:01:39][14.8]

[00:01:41] The strongly recognizable commercial images that are there. [00:01:45][3.4]

Angela: [00:01:45] Yes, yes. [00:01:45][0.2]

[00:01:46] They're very multinational. [00:01:46][0.3]

Angela: [00:01:48] Yes, the multinationals. And that opens up a whole other sense of our global world, in fact, and consumer behaviour and so on. [00:01:58][10.8]

Angela: [00:01:59] So, you can see single images, very few words, rich linguistic landscape where, not only the words, but everything about their location. We haven't said much yet about the way that the words are positioned. Which language is on top? Which language is underneath? These are all ideas that convey meaning and they are all ideas that we explore through work on linguistic landscape. And above all, above all, we look at reception. And that's where you came in. I had my own interpretation. I saw what I saw. But, it's an invitation to you to see, and for you to your students to see. What do you see? And, not only what do you see, but how do you interpret it? The notion of a multinational, the notion of consumerism, the notion of fast foods and so on, that that would have evoked. When multiple languages are involved, as we have here, what's the relationship of those languages? [00:03:09][70.4]

[00:03:10] I think ... OK, the umbrella in the previous image. [00:03:14][3.8]

Angela: [00:03:15] Yes. [00:03:15][0.0]

[00:03:16] They are in a sunny day it seems ... [00:03:19][3.2]

[00:03:19] Yes. [00:03:20][0.3]

[00:03:21] There's no rain. [00:03:22][0.6]

Angela: [00:03:22] Indeed, indeed, indeed, indeed. Now ... [00:03:24][1.9]

[00:03:24] They give an idea where you are. [00:03:26][1.7]

Angela: [00:03:27] Where we are, indeed. There's so much information. I hadn't seen that umbrella at all because I was so intent on looking at the language. I am obsessed with language. And so you can see, oftentimes we have to ask, "What do we see? What can't we see? What's there? What's not there?" And this is part of the whole discussion. Very quickly on the next one. One or two people. What do you see here? And what do you notice, Michelle? [00:03:54][27.6]

Michelle: [00:03:55] Well, there's Maori for a start. So ... and it's given great prominence. And, as we know in New Zealand, Maori has official status and is a major language. The Indigenous language is actually recognised prominently, very prominently. [00:04:11][15.4]

Angela: [00:04:11] Indeed, indeed. And the next? We can see the combination of languages that are meaningful for us in our own context. Now, what I can say is, do you have a collection of such images? I'm sure that your own photo collections of your own travels or visits and so on are full of all sorts of images. Do they contain language? [00:04:38][26.7]

Angela: [00:04:40] It's just exhilarating. What is the language that surrounds the landscape of your school? Fundamentally, these images are here and we could have gone on all morning with them just to say that our own reality in English-speaking Adelaide is a multilingual reality, and that that reality is what we are seeking to capture. [00:04:40][0.0]

End of transcript. 

Reframing: why languages? part 1 

Video transcript for reframing: why languages? part 1 

Michelle: [00:00:02] We have had a long rationale around Indonesian that it's all about travelling there, going there, using the language when you get there. And, when you take that away, particularly with the events that have happened in Indonesia and the travel advisory that, in effect, almost means a ban on students going to Indonesia. When you take that away, it makes you really question. You know, if I don't have that rationale of going there, why ... what on earth am I doing? And if students are telling us, I'm not going to go there, again, what are we doing it for? So, you know, I'm sure you could ask yourself similar questions that are relevant in your own languages. [00:00:43][41.2]

Michelle: [00:00:44] We've dreamt up, based on experience, and talking, you know, within our team, we've dreamt up a couple of scenarios. You might choose to draw on something from your own experience, you know, something that happened last week or last year or curriculum committee or whatever, something from your lives at school, to talk through how you might address some of these situations we find ourselves in where we do have to speak to others and try and communicate what it is that we're on about in language education. [00:01:15][31.4]

Michelle: [00:01:17] But there are these moments that crop up all the time where we find that we have to be advocates for our area. We have to explain, we have to justify. And, very often, we have to get those messages across quite quickly. So, we'd like you to, at your tables, to take one of these scenarios, or something from your immediate experience, and talk through: how would you address that now? How would you come, having just heard what we've heard, and with the statements in front of you, how would you come back and position yourself in those ... in that moment to talk about some sort of rationale and explain what we're doing in languages education, language teaching? [00:01:56][39.1]

Michelle: [00:01:57] Lovely discussion at the tables that I was at. And, you know, so many issues coming up. If you'd like to give us some thoughts that came out from having a little go at, you know, how we would speak back to some of these messages. [00:02:12][14.3]

Chris: [00:02:14] Well, as a French teacher, if we were to deal with the parent in the first scenario, we'd probably say something like, "Well, that's for next term. We haven't got there yet." [Laughter] Possibly. Or, we might say that, you know, the whole expectation in terms of the parent would be too ... it's just unrealistic. Scenario two. Yeah, I'm not really sure how how realistic that scenario actually is from where I sit as a secondary teacher. And, the last one, really, from ... [00:02:51][36.7]

Michelle: [00:02:51] Can I just ... [00:02:52][0.7]

Chris: [00:02:52] Yes. [00:02:52][0.0]

Michelle: [00:02:52] I'll just respond to that because this probably is a little bit based on an experience that we had in exactly this scenario where in ... [00:03:03][10.5]

Angela: [00:03:03] year 5 we do the school production. [00:03:04][1.5]

Michelle: [00:03:05] Yes. [00:03:05][0.0]

Angela: [00:03:06] And, you know, it would mean, if we increase the time for languages, we'd have less time available to prepare the children for the school production. And that's an annual event. We can't let go of it. [00:03:19][12.9]

Michelle: [00:03:19] So, you know, I guess what I'm getting at is that there are choices to be made about where you put your values and whether we, as languages, sit as extra or whether we are actually complimentary and a distinctive part of the mix, yeah. And that's the conversation that we were having around a number of tables was, what is our distinctive contribution in the curriculum so that we're not having to piggy back on all of the fads that come along? Obviously we engage with them like any area does, but it doesn't have to define us. So ... [00:03:54][35.4]

Angela: [00:03:54] But let us be very clear, in that particular example, where Michelle and I were both facilitating the discussion at that particular primary school, that school now does have the policy of four lessons per week of language in the primary school. So, we navigated that issue to the point where the policy now is not just one lesson a week, but four. Well, we had argued for a lesson a day, ah didn't quite, they couldn't quite get a full lesson a day ... [00:04:34][39.1]

Michelle: [00:04:34] They had started with one lesson a week. [00:04:34][0.5]

Angela: [00:04:35] But they had, yes, they had started with one, but the policy now is four lessons a week of language in primary school. So ... [00:04:44][8.6]

[00:04:44] Can we get that in all primary schools, please? [Laughter] [00:04:44][0.0]

Michelle: [00:04:48] We can certainly, if you're interested, we can certainly make available how. We've reported on this, and we've written it up as a case study, and we can certainly make that available because it did involve working with the principal and the other mainstream teachers and the curriculum deputy and so on over a couple of years. So, you know, these changes are big and they take time, but if there's commitment to do it, you know, that's what can be done. Four lessons a week. And the student learning went like that. And, actually it was in Japanese, and the teacher said we are finally teaching hiragana and we hadn't been doing that before. [00:05:27][38.5]

Angela: [00:05:28] And, in fact, what then sold it to the teachers, the mainstream teachers who were saying that second comment there, was that they saw with their own eyes what it was that the children were now learning and could do in Japanese. And the progress had been so markedly different that they began to see it as really worthwhile. Hence the school moved to change the policy. [00:05:55][27.4]

Michelle: [00:05:57] Angela, can I just jump in with some communication for the wider community around well, if you have these kinds of conditions or this amount of time on task with this sort of orientation, then you might be able to expect these sorts of learnings to come from that and so on. And we could actually have some varied examples so that when a school is doing one lesson a week, they can see what they get for that. When they're doing four lessons a week, they can see that story and see. And then make a choice. And they are making a choice. But, at the moment, we don't have necessarily the clear stories around those different forms of provision. So, that might be something that we can pick up through the professional associations or something maybe. But, you know, some really concrete ways of communicating what, you know, what conditions will yield what kind of learning with a view obviously, in our interest, to trying to increase that because we know that this area does require investment. It's not gonna be a quick fix. You know, one semester you're done. It does require investment and students and parents are, you know, it's reasonable that they can expect to see something returned for that investment, but they've also got to commit to that investment. [00:05:57][0.0]

End of transcript.

Reframing: why languages? part 2 

Video transcript for reframing: why languages? part 2 

[00:01:10] We've given you a series of rationale statements in your hand out. You can come to those in a minute, but I'll just set the scene. So, what we'd like you to do at your tables is to divide up those rationale statements and then read it really thoroughly and kind of feedback into the table discussion. The thing we'd like you to pay attention to is the general gist of these statements and what sort of messaging there is, and also the kind of language that they're expressed in. So, have a good look at the ideas, the rationales, the justifications, the arguments, but also the kind of language that is used and how it's couched in these statements. And then we'd like you to think about: how convincing is it? Obviously we're fairly persuaded in this room by some of those statements, but, again, with a view to our students, but also the wider community; and, are these the same sorts of arguments that you're used to? The sorts of language and arguments that you're used to in your own context? That you're used to hearing? Or, that you have actually used yourselves? [00:01:10][0.0]

Michelle: [00:01:12] Where do you guys, at your table, actually stand? Do you accept them? [00:01:17][5.2]

Angela: [00:01:18] Well, I think we would look at it on balance and see what's relevant to us in each of those statements, in each of those policies. What is it that we can take from it? Because, we are connected to other countries, we do need to think about languages on an international level, but we also need to make it specific to our context. So, what is it that we can take from those international documents and make it relevant to our students? [00:01:52][33.6]

Gosia: [00:01:52] We can do exactly as Gosia says and take pieces from the different rationales and enhance our work. But where do you actually stand? Where have you landed on thinking through ... when you've done the balancing up of all of these discussions and debates? As Gosia is saying, you know, we have to balance it up all the time. It depends on who we're speaking to. It depends on what argument we're putting forward. It depends, it depends, it depends, it depends. And when all is said and done, it'd be great to hear where have some of you landed. [00:02:37][44.6]

Angela: [00:02:38] We had a range of discussions in our table. The rationale, you know, why languages? I guess, catering for different motivations and reasons why the students might be doing the language is is critical to acknowledge. Not only the diversities, but also why they're there, why they want to be there and to respect that. So I was hearing that I had some students that were amazing, they did everything right, but they didn't want to really learn the language. They just wanted to get a good score in year twelve. And, heartbreaking as it was, and I was trying to convince them that that was so close to the breaking point that they could become speakers of Spanish, they were not interested. They just wanted to do well. So, that's on one side of the spectrum. [00:03:37][58.3]

Carlos: [00:03:38] The other side is those kids that discover, and I think Japanese is a great example, that curiosity for the Japanese culture and their way of thinking, that motivates them. And they might not be very academic, but they like it. So, I think, as teachers being able to recognise and to accept that they may not have the same motivation that you had many years ago to learn a language, it's still a valid reason because if we are not connected to that then it becomes a bit of a problem. [00:04:12][33.5]

Carlos: [00:04:12] In actual fact in our group, we all did a summary of each of the papers and then gave a report. There seem to be threads across it. And, I think that we all actually felt that it was tired, dead, boring and we wouldn't buy it. [00:04:35][22.4]

George: [00:04:38] That's a provocation for everyone. [00:04:38][0.3]

Michelle: [00:04:38] And we would ask ... and it's ... and we should ask ourselves: how do we make language alive? How do we bring spirit? How do we creatively market it? All of us have been charging all these basic rationales for the past 20 to 30 years. And they're dead. It's dead theatre. And what I think we're actually talking about when we're turning languages, that we should ... we should think back to our own childhoods and the magic and mystery of another culture, which was seen to be so relevant to me as a Eurasian child being born in Australia and asking myself why I'm here. Why am I here? How did I get here? I didn't want to be here. Why aren't I blue eyed and wonderful like everybody else in the community? So, what I thought, and this set me on a path of examining my own identity and having a fascination for the Italian people in the community and my best mates who came from different cultural backgrounds and going into their homes, sharing their food, sharing their language, learning. And it all seemed so much, so much more colourful and exotic and beautiful than, sort of, roast lamb on a Sunday in our very Anglo home, despite the fact that there was quite a Chinese factor happening. But, I think, that it's personalisation, making it real, bringing magic, unlocking the secrets to another universe - that is so important and that's why we teach languages. [00:06:53][134.7]

[00:06:54] For me, in thinking through my dilemma at Salisbury East, you know, I really started to think about the here and now of those kids lives, and what is that through their language learning, yes, it was Indonesian; yes, they were learning about the distinctiveness of Indonesia and so on, but the transferable knowledge, the knowledge, if you like, that they were going to take away that knowledge and capacity to navigate linguistic and cultural diversity. [00:07:23][28.7]

Michelle: [00:07:24] And I think, for me, that's a fundamental kind of disposition that I wanted to develop in my students. They may go away and forget Indonesian or forget, you know, those words that I taught them on Friday afternoon or whatever. But I hope that they carry that sense, sensitised perspective, if you like, for thinking about language, culture and meaning, and their identity in that. [00:07:50][26.4]

Michelle: [00:07:51] Because I was just noticing that you were talking about identity, and I know that in our language classrooms often students find a home where they feel that they sort of belong to a group of people who have like-minded particularly, you know, more in the senior years as they choose to be there. But, you're also highlighting the sense of their connection with the language program and with that sort of identity that is being offered to them as, you know, offering other ways that they can be. And sometimes for our students, you know, they'd like to, not step out of, but maybe expand, who they can be. And, the language program offers them a chance to do that. [00:08:36][45.0]

Michelle: [00:08:37] Some of the work that's happening in Europe, the work of Michael Byram, in particular, for those of you who maybe have engaged with some of the intercultural work, he's been very crucial in that area, they're working on something called 'intercultural citizenship'. And it's very much about using the language learning that they're doing. So, it is still a 'use' kind of orientation, but for some sort of social good, or for some sort of, I guess, humanistic purpose. And so there's a lot of work, if people are interested, I can point you to this work, but they're trying, again struggling with the rationale, you know, where are we taking young people through our languages education? And they are, sort of, working in this area of the citizenship use, not just for communication of any sort, but very much for ethical, political kind of action, even with quite young learners. And, for people working in Spanish, lots of work coming out of South America in this area as well. Again, this may not necessarily be most relevant for our context here. Their, you know, their post-colonial societies and so on in South America, they've very much picked up on this big time, and it sort of works for them. But, again, interesting to note that conversations are being had around the globe around, what are we doing this for and so on. Okay, to Liam. [00:10:04][87.0]

Michelle: [00:10:04] Yep. It's a bit like, you know, these are written papers that are great for, you know, ministers, other teachers, principals, leaders those sorts of things to read. But what about who's actually going to be receiving that rationale? What about the students? What about the language that the, you know, we all have this passion we can talk to kids and be like, "Yeah, it's just it's good for your cognitive needs." What does that mean? Like, you know ... What's that going to mean to, you know, a year one? [00:10:30][25.8]

Liam: [00:10:31] Convinced me! [Laughing]. [00:10:31][0.0]

Michelle: [00:10:31] Oh, yeah, I need some cognitive needs right after I've had my recess. You know ... having like those rationales and I suppose ... That's the other bit, our passion is there, but we need to, kind of, incorporate it in a way where we can impart that onto the people who are receiving these rationales. So, I'm different to George. I was not brought up with, like, this richness of culture. I didn't dream of Indonesia as a kid. I just did well at it in primary school. And then I did it at university, and I did good at Indonesian in university. And then I was like, well, I'm gonna be a language teacher. Then when I read about language teaching, I really, I like, I am that person who is, you know, I'm a sucker for that rationale. I'm, like, "Yeah, that's good." Like, you know, that's ... But we do need to, I suppose, get better at presenting it to the kids, to show it, to really sell it to them. You know, you're sold to it. Now we need to get good at selling it to them. So yeah ... [00:11:28][56.4]

Liam: [00:11:29] Yeah. If I could just pick up on a couple of points you've raised there Liam? You know, Indonesian for you wasn't about learning this language so that one day I can go and negotiate a contract in Indonesia or whatever. Or even just go to Bali and travel and whatever. It was, "Oh, I'm good at this thing right here and now. Oh, I'll just keep going a bit more. I'll keep going a bit more." And before you knew it, you had invested long term and you didn't want to give up the investment, clearly. So, this notion of feeling satisfied and feeling rewarded for what you're doing in the here and now, and I think, you know, if kids feel that they're learning something meaningful to them in the here and now, that is, you know, for me at least, a more convincing rationale for them than maybe some day, one day in the future if you blah, blah, blah or that sort of hypothetical. [00:12:25][56.1]

Michelle: [00:12:26] It's too remote, isn't it? [00:12:27][1.3]

Angela: [00:12:28] Yeah. [00:12:28][0.0]

Michelle: [00:12:28] It's far too remote. Liam reminded us of the receivers. The receivers of our message, as we're going to see in a moment, are not just the kids though. There are others who are receivers of the message. On the MELC Committee, our receiver is the Minister. It's a different kind of talk in that arena. You've got parents, you've got fellow colleagues in your curriculum committees and so on. Those are also receivers of the message. And so the tailoring that we have to do in order to chime in with the particular audience at the time. And fundamentally, asking ourselves: Which ones of these rationales do you buy yourself? Which ones are you at home with? And which ones can you actually sell? [00:13:24][56.2]

Angela: [00:13:25] I can be Dick Van Dyke and I'll be very Anglo in my approach here and talk about Mary Poppins and come in and be exciting and woo woo woo, 'cause, you know, I'm a NIT teacher and I've got to keep this show on the road, you know. Seriously, come to the Fringe show in January. No, just kidding. Engage the kids. Engagement. Excitement. No - give them purpose and tell them, "This is your job. This is what we're all here for, and this is about you learning to be a problem solver.". [00:13:49][23.3]

[00:13:49] Sorry. And getting them to reflect on why, while we're all in this classroom together, what opportunities, and it's not just about economic, going to the Gold Coast opportunities, or just about, you know, being able to ... Sorry, I'm talking way too much. [00:14:03][13.9]

[00:14:04] Don't apologise. You've answered, your answering the question. I'll also add, that in both your comment and yours it became very personal very quickly. Show the passion. That is what is infectious. And, where is the passion? Which ones of these documents give us that passion? [00:14:31][26.7]

Angela: [00:14:32] But, if I can just add, you know, when we get into the territory of passion and over here we were talking about curiosity, you know, and you talked about the magic and mystery, you know. When we get into that sort of language, we find that there's a lot of discounting of that language, it's not in the education, sort of, discourses. You know, it's all about cognition and now very serious kind of things. And, so when we raise these sorts of other emotional type dimensions to what we do, and there very much is, you know, that's what my students were telling me clearly. That they were rejecting the kind of connection with the language. They didn't see themselves in that language. You know, when we're starting to talk in that territory, you can sort of see that you know it's perhaps not part of the valued discourse in education. I think we need to, you know, move it back in and get a place for it and that we can say this is a distinctive part of what we do. We are on about curiosity, unlocking other worlds, mystery and intrigue and solving the puzzles and so on. We want to tap into that sort of aspects of learning. [00:15:45][72.5]

Michelle: [00:15:46] I mean, if there was more funding, then that would certainly make it ... I think we can have words of value, but if the value needs to be with the time. You don't become a quality athlete from running around the block once a day. Sorry, running around the oval once a week, sorry. It needs to be four or five lessons to get ongoing, lasting quality. And, so the kids see that we're serious about it not just them saying nice things. We all have the best intentions here, but I think that we'd like to see some value, some outcomes like that, I think. [00:16:24][38.1]

Simon: [00:16:27] Some solutions have come across, things like having solutions, having language nights and basically re-educate the parents for the values of languages. They've, we've seen some use/benefits in our schools for that. I think colleagues are often our best resources. Not just these here, but in local areas. Overseas trips. Carlos has been great for giving me some tips for that. With acceleration. ICT apps. My colleague Shane Peterer, really big on space repetition. There's, that's lots of tangible things. There are lots of solutions out there and I think we're in the best place here to get that from each other. So thanks very much. [00:17:09][41.6]

Angela: [00:17:10] Look that's a wonderful sentiment, Simon. And, what I can underline from this little segment, what Michelle and I had in mind was to, on the one hand, recognise some of the issues that you've raised. They are there and they are tough. What is really important is, not only that we recognise what those issues are, but that we find resourceful ways, clever ways of actually responding to these, not in any kind of defensive fashion. And this is where we get to the notion of, 'how do we present our arguments?' Which has been part of the whole rationale thing. And, this segment here as well, 'how do we present our arguments to the various communities (the students, principal, as you were saying over here, the teachers, other colleagues? How do we present arguments in a way that is going to make sense for them and bring about some of the changes that we'd like to see? This array that you've given us today are really, really helpful ... is really helpful. I love it. [00:17:10][0.0]

End of transcript.

Positioning languages programs in schools 

Video transcript for positioning languages programs in schools 

Michelle: [00:00:01] We did do some pre-session request: that you actually try and find in your school somewhere, your school context statement. It should be on most of the school websites. So, if you've got a gadget and you haven't had a chance, if you could just think about what we've been talking about today in the context of your school, and we're interested in reflecting on: how much is there a presence in your school around languages as a learning area, and also around this question of linguistic and cultural diversity of students? So that's one thing. What is actually there? What is ... what sort of statements is your school making about this area of learning and students' backgrounds? And, at the same time, if there isn't a context statement, or if there isn't a presence there, what would you want to do about it? What would you actually see in that space if you were able to affect, in some way, your school context statement? About five minutes or so. We'll come back for a few comments before our final wrap up. [00:01:09][67.7]

[00:01:09] We had to look at a few different curric ... context statements from schools at our table and across the board, there was very little about languages in there. In terms of the Blackwood High School one, in particular, it was just in terms of language acquisition as a subject was just in the curriculum section, but there wasn't a whole heap of information in terms of even the languages that were offered. [00:01:34][24.9]

Angela: [00:01:35] You can see why we chose to invite you to look at this, at your own school context statements. And, although we're focussing on context statements, this reflection also applies to all of the documentation that comes out of your school. Another notable example is the school curriculum handbook. The one that goes out to students and parents, particularly at the time of making subject choices. There's also the school newsletters that go out. There might be stories in the media about the particular school. So, in all of the documentation, in all of the areas where the school profiles itself, where are linguistic and cultural diversity and languages? Yes. [00:02:33][57.8]

Chris: [00:02:34] In most school context statements that I've seen, the only reference to languages is in the curriculum box that says we offer one, two, three, whichever ones they are. There is nothing about any of the other stuff at all. The explanation of what happens within languages in curriculum handbooks is often also formulaic and so everybody has to do the same thing ... [00:02:57][23.8]

Angela: [00:02:58] Yes. [00:02:58][0.0]

Chris: [00:02:58] ... under the same headings and so, while it's an interesting conversation, it's not something that anybody can do anything about unless we're directed higher from ... [00:03:08][9.7]

Angela: [00:03:08] Well, yeah it would be there if the notion came from the top, and maybe our Education Department colleagues can take that kind of notion on board. On the other hand, we from below can also say, "Hang on. There's an absence here." We had an example at table 10 where the example was well, what if we want to choose a school that actually offers, let's say, French? What would happen then? And, if these ... this information is not available, then that point of distinction for that particular school will also be lost. And so, it's not in the guise, necessarily, of critique: why haven't you put it there? But, it's in the guise of: wouldn't it be a good idea if we have a picture on our school's major organ of information that says this is the linguistic and cultural profile of our school? These are the languages that we offer. And then, unfolding from that, any other information that we can possibly give. I think it's an encounter of the top down and bottom up, not just a directive. More comments. [00:04:29][81.3]

Shawnee: [00:04:31] What I would like to see in the school context is that connection to community. So, getting the families ... because I've found that a lot of the kids' dispositions towards learning language, and anything really, comes a lot from their parents as well, so when you get them on board, and make that connection with what's relevant to them and ... that would make a huge difference, I think. [00:04:54][22.8]

Angela: [00:04:55] What we are inviting people to think about is certainly to look for those spaces within the documentation of your school that provide you with an opportunity for you to advocate for your particular area. The rationales that we've offered today, those texts, are things that you can draw upon. But I am absolutely persuaded that equally powerful, if not more, is not necessarily how much we communicate, but how we tailor our particular messages to get languages education on to the strongest possible footing in our own schools. [00:05:50][55.6]

Angela: [00:05:51] We've got 150+ people in this room. If everyone can actually put the lens on what's going on in their schools, it will be a 150 odd schools that will have had a message of saying, "Hang on a minute. Let's have a look at this again." And, with the kinds of discussions and what we've heard from you, I'm absolutely persuaded that we can do that. [00:05:51][0.0]

End of transcript.

5 Es of Languages education 

Video transcript for 5 Es of languages education 

Joseph: [00:00:02] I want to say that the rationale for what we do in language education must come from a couple of things that might not seem to be related. The first one is that we force children to go to school. Many children would probably not go to school if there weren't laws that make them go to school. It's so naturalized that we never think about it. And, in many parts of the world today, it's not actually that common. The idea that children would not go and work or help their families and yet go to school seems too difficult for many families to cope with. [00:00:44][42.6]

Joseph: [00:00:45] Now, of course, in Australia we've had the privilege of practically universal attendance at schooling for more than a century. And so we've imagined that it's like the natural permanent state, but really only starts in the late eighteen hundreds in most parts of Australia. [00:01:02][17.3]

Joseph: [00:01:03] So, the idea of free and compulsory education is actually not typical throughout history. It really arises at a certain time. We deprive children of their liberty and we force them to go to school. There's a moral obligation that arises from the fact that if you deprive someone of their liberty you need to provide for them something that's worthwhile, that's ethical, and that's productive in the environment in which you want them to go. [00:01:34][30.2]

Joseph: [00:01:34] The idea of where ... why we teach languages within this curriculum that students are required to attend and participate in can come from many different angles. I've thought about it as a policy maker, as a policy adviser, in very different environments and I don't think there's a single answer. [00:01:55][21.1]

Joseph: [00:01:56] Traditionally, enrichment was what we thought languages education was for and enrichment remains relevant. I know things about a society that I never had any connection with until I started going there 15 years ago and now I have friends there, I have ... I know things about ... my life is richer as a result of this knowledge that I have. And, when they interact with me, I can talk to them about Australia, but I can talk to them about the cultural traditions that I come from anyway, and so there are interactions between us that are deeper and greater than they otherwise would be. So, we could almost count this and enumerate it in all the ways in which things are richer, enriched. [00:02:41][44.5]

Joseph: [00:02:43] The second 'E': economics. The idea that learning the language of someone else who has some kind of economic power or prestige can help you in a career. And, there's very clearly a lot of evidence that this is the case. And, this happened when countries other than English-speaking ones started to acquire a lot of economic power and then languages started to have this instrumental practical benefit. So, economics came in and started to take over the reasoning around why we do languages. But, something else then arose and this arose heavily with the civil rights movement in the United States around 1964-65. And that is that people started to look at educational performance of groups of students and they found that there were strong predictors that come from the language backgrounds of particular groups of children. People started to say, well actually, there's a problem here. These children are learning the target language, the dominant language, from a position of another language and we have to bridge this gap for them. And then, the more they researched it we thought that people realised, well actually, eroding the first language is the worst possible thing that you can do, and we need to build the first language so that children can acquire the second language, and build literacy in the first language so that they can acquire literacy and the second language. So, the interconnectedness of these two things became very obvious. [00:04:10][87.2]

Joseph: [00:04:11] I'm the patron of the Victorian School of Languages and last year, I had the pleasure, one of the deepest pleasures I've ever had in this role, I launched the curriculum for the teaching of the Chin Hakha language. And the Chin Hakha language is one of 57 languages in the Chin state of Myanmar, and all of those languages are heavily repressed by society that imposes another language on them. And when I go back there and I talk to people of that community, they are astonished that in Australia you can study this language that is repressed in its homeland and you can actually do your VCE, the equivalent of SACE, using that language as part of your entry requirements into university. I think that is a kind of multicultural achievement. We use this word a bit cheaply, we say, 'celebrate'. I think that's something that should be celebrated. It helps these children, who are refugee children, who spent a lot of time in camps, in muddy camps in which no one taught them anything, in which they saw people die - things that children should never see. They come to schools in prosperous Melbourne and they can study this language that they know was the reason that their parents were oppressed. I think that's staggeringly powerful. That is something really worth celebrating. And so, the idea of equality, the third 'E' here. That language teaching, at least for some populations, was justified. The rationale, the legitimation was mostly around questions of equalizing educational performance and outcome for such children. [00:05:56][105.0]

Joseph: [00:05:56] And then we have 'external' ... training for diplomacy, global awareness, world mindedness, things like this, and practical things like, travel. So, external justifications. So, each of these remain relevant, but over time more subtle and I think, more sophisticated ways to understand why, when children are compelled to go to school and we require them to learn a curriculum that's set externally from the school, why we would include languages within that. [00:06:32][35.1]

Joseph: [00:06:33] I think, and it's no surprise to anyone that I will say this, that languages are possibly the most important part of the curriculum. I think languages are actually not like a subject. They're not like any other subject. They are for some, for one very, very important reason, one particular fact, completely unlike most other subjects. That is, they have a living, breathing community of identity, functioning, emotion, value, and history outside of the school. In other words, if you studied mathematics and you know, there's nothing ... it's not a criticism of mathematics, what's involved with mathematics is mostly the acquisition of knowledge about a symbolic system that humans have created. It's been extraordinarily powerful and useful for human civilization, but it doesn't have a living, breathing community of interest outside of the score. Languages have this. And languages are the only subject that has this. Therefore, they're not a good fit for a curriculum understood in classical or conventional ways. [00:07:40][67.8]

Joseph: [00:07:41] So, I could tell you about creaky tone in English, but if you master creaky tone in Burmese and then use it, you're not just knowing something, you have been empowered to enact and be in the world as a social person which takes the norms of that other community for granted. You cannot do that in English. Once you learn the language, you walk in that society as, in inverted commas, "a native" or a "semi native". In other words, you accept their naturalization of their history. This is only possible with language. It's only possible with accepting the norms of the other language. You might not like creaky tone, but you still have to use it to communicate. And this means that languages in the old cliché make you walk in other people's shoes. That is, with their assumptions, with their historical interpretation of the world. This, when we require students to be schooled, is much more powerful a rationale than any other. And, this is where I've landed, because we accept difference in a deep way. What this does is contributes in a deeper way than almost anything you could think of to building a form of social cohesion across communities. And, Australia is a deeply multilingual, multicultural society. We're never not going to be this anymore. If you project 50 years forward, we're only going to be more diverse, more complex, more mobile, more porous, more interconnected with the rest of the world. [00:09:30][108.3]

Joseph: [00:09:31] The teaching, and the integration of languages deeply within curriculums today, is an investment in future interaction across the components of our society. That is, what I like to call, living and flourishing together. We don't want to just live together with people who are different from us. We want to be able to interact with them, flourish with them. We want to be able to form a socially cohesive community. So, teaching languages is an investment in living and flourishing together in an interconnected world which is never going to be less interconnected than it is today. It's just going to be more interconnected. It's going to be more deeply mobile. It's going to be more deeply intermarried. It's going to be more deeply interacting. [00:10:20][48.8]

Joseph: [00:10:21] So, what brings it together and where I have landed is what good multilingual, interculturally oriented, multilingual teaching does, is build future cohesive communities. And that's worth more than everything. And so, when we struggle to justify languages in schools, I constantly want to ring up the politician, or whoever it is that saying this, and say, "Please, let's sit down for half an hour and let me tell you the stories behind what make learning the languages of other people, accepting their norms, walking in their shoes, really important for everybody." Yes, you can help someone get a job, and that's good. Yes, you can learn about literatures and become richer, and that's good too. Yes, you can travel. And of course, that's wonderful. All of us who love to travel would say that. And yes, you can help children who are disadvantaged to gain more equality in their education system. But, what you mostly want to do, is build a society that's cohesive, that's interactive, in which people flourish and live together without conflict, in which we build the possibility of interaction in a way that's respectful and decent. And that's why we do languages, and that's where I have landed. Thank you. [00:10:21][0.0]

End of transcript.