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"Sarah Payne is a world class language educator". Full text of Derek Bayley's nomination speech.

Date: 26 November 2015

Guten Abend meine Damen und Herren, hartelijk welkom et bonjour à tous, أهلاً وسهلاً بكم! My name is Derek Bayley and I am a passionate speaker of 5 languages, French, German, Arabic, Dutch and English. That fact is thanks in no small part to the foundations laid by the exemplary language teaching of Ms Sarah Payne, our winner of the inaugural 2015 Patji Dawes Award, who we are here to honour this evening.  Could I ask for another round of applause.

Patji-Dawes Panel, Members of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, and language enthusiasts, I have been asked to say a few words about our winner, Sarah Payne, as her nominator.  I must admit, as a lover of language, there is no harder task than being asked to keep something short, as we always have so many words to share, but I will do my best to keep things brief. I would like to touch on two points:  firstly, Sarah Payne’s quality as a language pedagogue, and secondly, the importance of this award for language pedagogy in Australia.  

Sarah is a world class language educator. As I detail in my nomination, her worthiness for this award is clear. I will be forever grateful to her for the many hours spent in the depths of French grammar books, and mentorship in the highs and lows of language learning. I thank her for imparting on me a deep understanding of the human science of language, decoding the intricacies of its form and substance, investing in language leadership, and breaking the stigma of language learning, particularly for young men, who are sometimes conditioned to believe that humanities are not a masculine or worthy pursuit. I also stress that despite Sarah’s assurances, I am not a sui generis in Sarah’s language teaching. I am part of a broader pattern of very talented young linguists Sarah has produced. Indeed, in the years subsequent to 2009, when I was Sarah’s student many students under Sarah’s tutelage have gone on to achieve top 5 state rankings in Higher School Certificate exams for languages, to achieve excellent results in the bilingual International Baccalaureate, and secure scholarships to international degree programs at overseas universities, particularly in China. For this and more, I, and many others like me, thank Sarah deeply.

Secondly, I wish to make brief mention of the importance of this award for language educators. I think the Patji-Dawes award serves an exceedingly important purpose in language education; it provides something tangible for language teachers, to inspire and motive those who inspire and motivate.  I know this award means much to Sarah, personally and professionally, and I am sure the award has a very bright future.

Finally, can I express a large thankyou to the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, for assisting me to make the trip from Europe to attend this evening’s proceedings.  It is an exciting reality of language education that, when done well, students end up in far-flung places. This is certainly the case for me, and I have relished the opportunity to come to tonight’s event and celebrate Sarah’s achievements. In a way, this is for me a very cathartic experience, to see Sarah now recognised for her work with me many years ago.  So again, a large thank you for the ARC’s support.

And finally, thank you to you all for attending tonight, fellow language enthusiasts.  It is great to see you all joined here in the common purpose of a love of language teaching and learning. I hope you will join me in congratulating Sarah once again. 

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