Bilingualism & Multilingualism in Schools Symposium

Session One: Bilingualism & Vernacular Languages 

Dhäruktja Dhuwala Djambulu-mäypa, Bulal' Dhukarr: Our Language has Many Layers - Two Learning Pathways
Yalmay Yunupingu (Teacher Linguist, Yirrkala School) & Robin Beecham (Teacher Linguist, Yirrkala School) 

Yirrkala School has run a Bilingual education program for over 40 years. There have been many achievements to celebrate along the way and challenges to face. Children come to school with knowledge of their own Yolŋu language and culture. The community has always felt strongly about the importance of valuing this and providing the opportunity for them to learn in both their own languages and in English and in an environment in which they are highly respected.

This presentation discusses the current organisation of the school, delivery of bilingual education, development of curriculum and resources and the important influence of past and present Yolŋu elders and educators in guiding programs.  

The Use NAPLAN in remote Indigenous schools
Professor Gillian Wigglesworth
Deputy Director, Research Unit for Indigenous Language, University of Melbourne 

NAPLAN (National Assessment of Proficiency – Literacy and Numeracy) was introduced across Australia in 2008 and is administered to all children in Grades 3, 5, 7 and 9.   Following its initial introduction, with the scores of Indigenous children below the norm, the NT government mandated the “first four hours of English“ policy, effectively dismantling bilingual programs across the territory.

In this presentation, based on interviews with teachers, and analysis of some early NAPLAN test papers, we examine the challenges the NAPLAN presents for the education of Indigenous children. 

Technology & bilingual education: App developing for phonological awareness
Gemma Morales (Graduate Student, School of Languages & Linguistics, University of Melbourne) & Professor Gillian Wigglesworth (Deputy Director, Research Unit for Indigenous Language, University of Melbourne)

The paper reports on an assessment of children’s phonological awareness in Dhuwaya which was developed for Yirrkala school.  The app-based program was developed in consultation with Yirrkala teachers, and trialled at the school.  At the same time, a program designed to develop children’s phonological awareness in Dhuwaya was developed and this was administered to the children in several sessions over one term.  The initial assessment was then administered again at the end of the term, and a further time six months later.  In this paper we report on the process and, briefly, on the early outcomes.

Kanak language programs in New Caledonia
Dr Claire Colombel
Head, Pasi ka Department, Teacher Training Institute of New Caledonia 

Prof Stephen MayBilingual Maori-English programs in the New Zealand education system
Professor Stephen May
Professor, School of Māori Education, Faculty of Education & Social Work, University of Auckland 

In this presentation, I will chart the development of Māori bilingual/immersion in Aotearoa/New Zealand, along with current trends and challenges. I will also briefly situate these developments in relation to other Indigenous language education contexts internationally. 

Stephen May is a Professor in Te Puna Wānanga (School of Māori Education) in the Faculty of Education and Social Work. He is an international authority on language rights, language policy, bilingualism and bilingual education and critical multicultural approaches to education and, to date, has published 15 books and over 90 articles and chapters in these areas. 

Prof Sharon HarveyForeign languages & New Zealand educational language policy
Associate Professor Sharon Harvey
Head, School of Language & Culture & Deputy Dean (Research), Faculty of Cul- ture & Society, Auckland University of Technology 

The mix of languages taught in schools reflects the histories, politics and values of societies and their constituent communities. This presentation will examine New Zealand’s early language education history and then consider the status and development of languages other than English in the post WW11 period. In 1992 the publication and launch of a comprehensive national languages framework for New Zealand: Aoteareo: Speaking for Ourselves sponsored by The New Zealand Ministry of Education, was jettisoned. However, the undertaking was, that developments in languages education would proceed within the compulsory education sector. The work resulted in the introduction of a new learning strand for languages in the 2007 national curriculum: Learning Languages. The new strand included a government expectation that from 2010 all children from year seven onwards would have access to learning a language other than English. Part of the impetus for this push to learn languages was the perceived need to prepare New Zealand students to be interculturally competent at home in an increasingly multicultural New Zealand, as well as being effective social and economic actors in international contexts. The paper critically evaluates the effectiveness of New Zealand’s approach to ‘foreign’ language education since 2007 in light of the country’s unique bicultural framework embodied in the Treaty of Waitangi, immigration and its international responsibilities, particularly those in the Pacific region.

Sharon Harvey was an ESOL and workplace literacy teacher for many years. Over the last 20 years she has been closely involved in the development of postgraduate programmes and a research culture at AUT. From 2007-2011 Sharon led three national Ministry of Education research evaluations in the areas of ESOL paraprofessionals and language teacher professional development. Currently, she is leading the Ministry of Education national evaluation of Asian Language Learning in Schools (ALLiS). Sharon's strong interest in languages equity and policy led her to initiate and co-write the 2013 Royal Society of New Zealand paper Languages of Aotearoa / New Zealand and she is currently a core member of the Auckland Languages Strategy Group which has recently succeeded in having a Languages Strategy endorsed by Auckland Council.

Session Two: Bilingualism & European & Asian languages 

Overview of bilingual education in Australia: European/Asian languages
Dr Peter Brown
School of Literature, Languages & Linguistics, Australian National University 

From Telopea Park School/Lycée franco-australien‘s bilingual model to The Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE)’s language policy
Emmanuel Texier
Proviseur, Telopea Park School (Canberra) 

French-English bilingual education in New Zealand: FRENZ experience
Ania Sbai
Teacher Leader, L’Etoile du Nord/Birkdale North School (Auckland) 

Involving parents & parental support: The example of the Chinese bilingual program in Canberra
Amanda Andrews (Principal, Mawson Primary School Canberra) & Dr Mandy Scott (Secretary, ACT Bilingual Education Alliance) 

Session Three: Bilingualism & Neuropsychology 

A more resilient brain speaks multiple languages: Neuroimaging findings across the lifespan
Associate Professor Nicolas Cherbuin
Director, Neuroimaging & Brain Lab, Centre for Research on Ageing, Health & Wellbeing, Research School of Population Health, College of Medicine, Biology & Environment, Australian National University 

A new approach to the study of bilingualism: Local versus global processing of hierarchical gures
Associate Professor Anne Aimola Davies
College of Medicine, Biology & Environment, Australian National University 

Public Lecture

Prof Joseph Lo BiancoSecuring the Future: Multilingualism as a Social Resource
Professor Joseph Lo Bianco
Professor, Language & Literacy Education, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne 

In this talk I will argue that there is a ‘container’ within which language policies are imagined, and language politics occurs. I think of this container as either an institutional setting, such as the education ministry of a state, or even of ‘the state’ itself, since in the Pacific what counts as a ‘state’ is a question of substantial importance. So much of the theory of sociolinguistics as it has emerged from North American and Western European research in recent decades takes for granted assumptions of a bounded space within which society and language interact with each other. However this assumed container, for reasons of scale, but also historical inheritance and language ideologies, is inapplicable to some parts of the world and represents a major obstacle to language planning. The themes of ‘security’ and the assumption that our future is insecure dominate a lot of public discussion because of the deep transformations to the taken for granted world most adults living today inherited, of western cultural and political dominance at the military and economic levels, and therefore at cultural and ideologically also. To truly ‘secure’ the future, however, is to re-think all the assumptions we have inherited, one of them begin the naturalisation of monolingualism as a more stable, normal and necessary state. Most of the world, and many of the world’s peoples, have lived in and with multilingualism as the ‘normal’ state for much longer. Not just multilingualism, but also mixed and hybrid communication forms are needed to produce better education outcomes in Pacific Island countries, more secure ‘national’ futures, and more ‘intact' cultural systems. The multilingualism of Pacific island futures, and the containers within which they are conceived, will include languages of wider communication, of immigration and global space, but also the multiple languages and codes of locality.

Joseph Lo Bianco is professor of Language and Literacy Education in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. Currently he is completing a four year project in SE Asia on language – policy and peace building in conflict zones in SE Asia. Recent publications include: Learning from Difference: Comparative Accounts of Multicultural Education, (Springer, 2016) and Conflict, Language Rights, and Education: Building Peace by Solving Language Problems in Southeast Asia.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University