National funding awarded for new OLT project: A national language studies portal for Australian universities

14 May 2014

The Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities (LCNAU) has announced the awarding of funding by the Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) for a new and significant national project to four leading scholars including Macquarie University’s Professor Martina Möllering, in partnership with LCNAU.

Entitled “A national language studies portal for Australian universities”, its main aim is to improve access to languages at tertiary level for all students around the country. There is currently no simple way for prospective students to see at a glance which languages are available at which universities; whether they are available online; and how to enrol in language courses offered at other universities.

A Languages Portal will be created as the key outcome of this project in order to address these issues by making visible in a single online location all languages taught at all Australian universities, ranging from Indigenous Australian languages to global languages, from semester-long courses to full degree programs, and via a number of delivery methods.

In addition to improving access to information for students, the Languages Portal project will create greater co-operation across universities. A trial consortium will also be established to negotiate and facilitate the process of cross-institutional enrolment, as well as to share advanced language studies courses and courses in lesser-taught languages — through joint on-campus and online teaching.

The project is being undertaken by three leading universities for languages studies — Australian National University, Macquarie University and The University of Melbourne — and will be carried out in partnership with LCNAU in order to develop, maintain and disseminate the Languages Portal.

The project leaders are: Professor Jane Simpson (Chair of Indigenous Linguistics, ANU and Deputy Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language); Professor Catherine Travis (Chair of Modern European Languages and Head of the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics, ANU); Professor Martina Möllering (Head of International Studies, Macquarie University); and Professor John Hajek (former Chair of Languages Discipline, The University of Melbourne, and President, LCNAU).

The project is expected to commence formally on 1 June 2014 and has funding of $300,000 for two years.

Professor Martina Möllering, Head of the Department of International Studies at Macquarie University and co-CI on this project, stresses the importance of the project in particular for access to lesser taught languages, which will become more widely available through the establishment of the language portal. She says that the project will also strengthen the impetus for the development of innovative delivery methods, including online learning and teaching.

LCNAU President and co-CI, Professor John Hajek, says that it is a significant investment on the part of the OLT and a recognition of the need to address a number of challenges impacting on the languages sector in our universities.

He believes the Languages Portal project will demonstrate that the demand for languages is in fact very present amongst tertiary students, and that inadequate access to languages is a major impediment to students being able to study them.

For further information about the Languages Portal project at Macquarie University, contact:

Prof Martina Möllering, martina.mollering@mq.edu.au (Head, Department of International Studies) 02-98507012

Filed under: Education Humanities