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Thanks to the fast-paced environment we’re all living in today, academia—like most other professions and disciplines—must constantly work to stay relevant, contemporary and savvy. It’s no wonder, then, that educational institutions the world over are continually reinventing themselves with “new-age” curricula, subject matter and topical discourse.
In this context, the question often arises of how supposedly “traditional” streams of study like languages, keep pace with changing times? However, languages are as relevant today as they were historically—and, in fact, even more so into the future.
As Professor Peter Friedlander aptly puts it, at ANU’s School of Culture, History & Language (CHL), language pedagogy is based on the fundamental principle that languages are intrinsically essential to understanding cultures, and that every language has its own set of distinct, unique challenges.
One of ANU’s founding objectives is how we can prepare to understand our neighbours, which is becoming increasingly critical in order to transcend boundaries of ideology, custom and varied global socioeconomic and political affairs. Indeed, language education is at a critical crossroads—and this is where innovation in language education comes to the forefront of discussion. How knowledge and skill is delivered makes all the difference. Digital Learning Advisor and Deputy Manager, Digital Learning Grazia Scotellaro makes an interesting point about innovation: “Language teaching is one of the hardest things to do, but sometimes, innovation is to just simplify, not complicate.”
At CHL, innovation in language teaching is an ongoing focus. Unlike other educational institutions across Australia, ANU has invested in increasing the number of languages being taught at its various language-focused schools. It has invested time, creativity and space on niche but culturally important languages that aren’t natural and obvious choices as seemingly front-running global languages; this includes Tok-Pisin, Tetum, Mongolian and Tibetan, to name a few.
The teaching methods being adopted at CHL allow for off-campus methodology and the use of technology that makes the subject meaningful for the student. CHL is well on its way along the path of innovative pedagogy, with virtual classrooms, remote learning with multimedia-enabled e-text publications, or leveraging Moodle and the mobile platform. This is just the beginning; there’s lot more to do, because constant innovation and creativity is key.
Innovation infused into teaching methodology is also the core focus of the upcoming Innovative Language Education Symposium (5–7 September 2019), which brings together both national and international leaders in the language education space to share their visions of what constitutes innovative language education today. What are the pressing issues surrounding language education globally? What does the latest research in Asian language teaching suggest? What are the most recent and forthcoming developments in language teaching pedagogy? These are some of the themes that will be discussed and debated upon at this flagship event. Come and share your ideas and join the thought leaders and members of the language education diaspora to brainstorm and learn about the future of language education in the Asian century.