DIVISION OF EDUCATION, ARTS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
RESEARCH CENTRE FOR LANGUAGES AND CULTURES
Brief notes and actions from the meeting
29 September 2009 from 4:00pm in H2-40, Amy Wheaton Building, Magill campus
Dr Lynn Arnold Mr Ludgero Rego (for Kevin Comber)
Assoc Prof Jo Cys Assoc Prof Catherine Elder (from 4:30pm)
Ms Dyan Francis Assoc Prof Diana Glenn
Mr Hieu Van Le Assoc Prof Angela Scarino (A/Chair)
Ms Lia Tedesco Ms Toni Cocchiaro (left 5:30pm)
Prof Tony Liddicoat Prof Kerry Green (Head of School)
Mr Julian Eitzen (Executive Officer)
Ms Grace Portolesi Prof Pal Ahluwalia
Mr Kevin Comber
Angela extended a warm welcome to members to the inaugural meeting of the Research
Centre for Languages and Cultures Advisory Committee. She advised that she would
chair the initial meeting and that the substantive Chair would be appointed from among the
external members. Angela briefly described the University structure noting that the Centre
was located within the School of Communication, International Studies and Languages
(CIL), one of five schools forming the Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences
(EAS). The divisions stand as the primary organisational units of the University and
comprise Business; Health Science; Information Technology, Engineering and the
Environment; and EAS. Angela encouraged the members to feel free to ask questions
about the University.
Each member took it in turn to introduce himself/herself and to outline his/her interest in
languages and cultures.
4. Introduction to the Research Centre
Angela indicated that the Centre was established around twelve years ago through the
National Languages and Literacy Institute of Australia (NLLIA). The impetus for the NLLIA
came from the 1987 National Policy on Languages (prepared by Joe Lo Bianco). The
Centre has continued through various shifts in languages policy, for example with the
Council of Australian Governments embracing the National Asian Languages and Studies
in Schools (the Rudd Report) which has returned to the fore following the election of the
Angela described the University‟s approach of encouraging research concentrations so
that once those involved in the concentration achieved a threshold in competitive grants,
publications and other research outputs they would become eligible to apply to become a
University supported Research Centre. Further growth could lead to the status of
International Research Centre, or to the peak level of Research Institute.
The Research Centre for Languages and Cultures comprises a group of academics with a
diversity of languages and diverse domains of language interest. The four major areas of
the enterprise are:
a) Language and Culture in Education – this area has many projects including for
example, a $1.3 million project (Intercultural Language Teaching and Learning in
Practice (ILTLP) [see website: http://www.iltlp.unisa.edu.au/]) concerned with an
intercultural orientation to language learning and the recently published “Guide to
b) International Education – primarily concerned with the intercultural exchange
processes associated with international education.
c) Language and Culture in the Professions – an example being the language
context of care provision in aged care facilities.
d) Social and Political Context of Language – the Centre seeks to be deeply
involved in discussions around language policy
ACTION: Distribute the “Teaching and Learning Languages.” A guide to members
The Centre conducts an annual symposium as a means to expand the number and range
of people in dialogue with it. The Centre is striving to build its research outputs.
Tony explained the Australian Government‟s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA)
currently in the process of being introduced. He reported that the research quality
exercise was currently on trial and would be fully implemented in 2010. He acknowledged
there was a fuzziness around the definition of discipline areas and the range of work for
inclusion. He also noted that research staff in the Centre all, to varying extents, were also
engaged in teaching. He indicated that a wide variety of languages were used in the
Centre‟s research activity as well as in its publications.
Hieu asked whether Professor Peter Buckskin was responsible for Indigenous Australian
languages. Pitjantjatjara has been offered as a summer school in the David Unaipon
College of Indigenous Education and Research and Peter is the Head of School. Angela
noted that Indigenous Australian languages were in a fragile position which was an issue
of concern to be addressed by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting
Authority in its development of a national curriculum (ACARA). The Education Department
was supportive of Indigenous Australian languages in schools, but resourcing and
curriculum space was an issue.
Lynn suggested there was a need for a more focused effort by stakeholders to highlight
the issues of Indigenous Australian languages. He noted a serious decline in bilingual
education and asked what had become of the policy work of the 80‟s.
Lia advised that research had shown that after 20 years the status of language education
had only marginally improved. On the other hand, language departments in many
universities had been scaled back or closed over the last decade. There was also a
decline in students continuing with languages in high schools, again relating to curriculum
ACTION: “Investigation into the State and Nature of Language Teaching in Australia”, a
recent report prepared by RCLC members is available to members.
Angela noted that the research had been informative, but the real need was for the
political will to do better. Lia suggested that the diversity of languages in Australia was at
the same time a strength and a weakness as that recognition equated to a diffused effort.
Tony noted that the major languages taught in schools were struggling, particularly in
terms of workforce planning for language teachers. Lynn suggested that the community
narrative was the missing driver, noting that the government only appeared to be hearing
the economic drivers for language learning.
5. Role of the Committee
Jo confirmed that the University was committed to the process of external stakeholder
input. She acknowledged that the Chair of the Committee would be an external member
and that the appointment would follow the inaugural meeting. Jo emphasised the value
that the University places on the Advisory Committee input and welcomed the members as
critical friends of the Centre. She concluded that it was intended that the Advisory
Committee would foster mutually beneficial relationships and would not be unduly
6. Members’ items
Dyan reiterated concern about Indigenous Australian languages. Angela acknowledged
the fact and indicated the challenge for the Centre was to find better ways to engage with
community language groups. She noted that the community wanted an intellectual
engagement, and that this needed to be on their own terms.
Toni suggested the concept of a „Thinker in Residence‟ in languages and cultures. The
idea was well received by the Committee and Lia indicated that it would be important to
ensure that the perspective of young people was included.
Diana suggested that the Centre consider a more formalised governance structure with
the creation of an executive structure or management committee.
Lynn indicated that the Ethnic Schools Board of South Australia would be a good contact
for community languages. Dyan noted that the Council for International Trade and
Commerce South Australia would also be a very useful contact.
ACTION: Members forward community language organisational contacts to Angela.
7. New business
7.1 RCLC research plan 2007-2009
Angela reported that the current plan had served the Centre very well. The only issue
arising has been that some of the current academic outputs are not recognised in
Department for Education, Science and Technology (DEST) publication categories, for
example, substantial reports such as the “Investigation into the State and Nature of
Language Teaching in Australia”. Never-the-less, the Centre has generated a good record
of income. The Centre has performed well in Category 2 and 3 funding and has set the
target for at least one ARC (Category 1) grant per year. Angela highlighted the highly
competitive environment for ARC funding. The plan also included a process for the
development of documentation of the impact of the Centre‟s research (in relation to the
previous Research Quality Framework (RQF) model). A strong emphasis in the Centre‟s
operation has been the concept of building an environment with a rich research culture. A
feature of that has been the Monday afternoon seminars – 4:00pm every Monday during
teaching terms. Central to the plan has been the commitment to staff development – the
Centre assiduously maintains staff development records and senior staff actively mentor
developing researchers to build research capacity. The Centre is currently looking toward
developing the next three year plan which will feature a strategy for growth of academic
publications. Catherine congratulated the Centre for its success in a very competitive
ACTION: Centre to include the Committee members in its planning process.
Hieu enquired about the nature of a typical research and consultancies. Angela explained
using the example of the tender for the “State and Nature of Language Teaching in
Australia”. The Centre responded by submitting a tender, and subsequently won the
tender. The research was conducted and the report was written and delivered to the
Australian Government as the funding body. Several academic publications were also
developed from the research and report. Tony noted that most contract research was with
the Australian government. He also highlighted the Centre‟s desire to diversify beyond a
strict educational focus.
Catherine suggested that the Centre might consider developing a „Research Internship‟.
Angela agreed that the concept was helpful and also noted interest in establishing a post
Doctoral Fellowship. She advised members of the University‟s memorandum of
understanding with Australian National University and the potential for useful
arrangements to be explored through this arrangement.
7.2 RCLC report
Angela indicated that the report was prepared for an internal University process that was
useful for the Committee to see in terms of what the Centre does and its performance for
Lynn asked about the process for developing the plan for 2010 and beyond. Angela
advised that would appropriately form the focus for the next meeting. She noted that the
next task would be to establish the Chair for the Committee.
ACTION: Members to forward nominations for the position of Committee Chair to Angela.
The meeting closed at 6:05pm.
8. Next meeting
The next meeting is to be advised.