UNE to help Australians become Asia literate

Published 02 December 2010

sayakakotoThe University of New England has been awarded a Commonwealth Government grant of $486,000 to help Australian secondary school teachers and their students gain Asian language literacy.

The program is sponsored by the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP) Strategic Collaboration and Partnership Fund, an initiative of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

The grant awarded to UNE is the largest given to any single organisation since the NALSSP began in 2009. It will support UNE’s new Asian Languages Accreditation Program (ALAP), run by the School of Arts and the Arts New England Centre for Innovation and Research in the Arts, which will provide professional development in language acquisition for 30 registered (in-service) secondary school teachers.

Teachers will undertake part-time studies by distance (online) education in Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese or Indonesian languages and teaching methodologies as part of a Diploma in Modern Languages program. Each ALAP student will be given a Student Contribution Sponsorship which includes a full Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) grant for all eight units in the Diploma course. In addition, ALAP students will have subsidised travel and accommodation when attending non-mandatory intensive schools at UNE for study in Asian language units. For those ALAP students who wish to accelerate completion of their studies, optional overseas study is available in the summer holidays at one of UNE’s partner institutions in China, Indonesia or Japan. Students will be eligible to apply for a subsidy of up to $4,000 to cover travel, accommodation and meals for three weeks while they are overseas.

In announcing the allocation of $3.6 million from the NALSSP Strategic Collaboration and Partnership Fund to UNE and other applicants, the Minister of School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, the Hon. Peter Garrett, said that the grants were a vital part of “the Government’s strategic investment into increasing Australian students’ knowledge of the languages and cultures of our Asian neighbours”.

Competition for funds was fierce, with only 10 of 51 proposals making the final cut. “I am delighted that the Government and its chosen expert assessors have recognised UNE’s established excellence in the teaching and learning of Asian languages,” said UNE’s Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Professor Jennie Shaw.

Professor Shaw is keen for individual teachers and local schools to take part in the program. “The great advantage of online learning is that we can deliver high quality, flexible study to sponsored students who would be otherwise disadvantaged by geographical circumstances or family or employment commitments,” she said.

No previous knowledge of an Asian language is necessary. Those teachers with no previous Asian language experience will be able to acquire language skills at a level that meets the NSW Institute of Teachers accreditation requirements to teach an Asian language as a second teaching area. For those who have either studied the specified Asian language to HSC level or equivalent, or who are native speakers of that language, the ALAP provides a pathway to language acquisition at a level that meets the NSW Institute of Teachers accreditation requirements to teach an Asian language as either a first or a second teaching area.

Applications and enrolments are now open. Preference will be given to secondary school teachers who submit their applications to UNE by the 1st of January 2011, but enrolments will remain open until the 1st of February or until all 30 places are filled. Studies commence in February 2011. All study covered by the Student Contribution Sponsorship must be completed by December 2012.

For more information contact Professor Jennie Shaw at UNE or asianlanguages@une.edu.au

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Sayaka Nunotani giving a koto recital during a Japanese cultural evening at UNE earlier this year.