Academic journal article Babel

From the Editor

Academic journal article Babel

From the Editor

Article excerpt

This year is the declared United Nations International Year of Languages. For us, every year is a year of languages, but an international declaration like this does serve to remind us to find ways for ourselves and others to acknowledge our national treasury of languages. The variety of Australian multicultural gastronomic offerings are frequently celebrated in the press, but less often is it appreciated that the same mixed population also provides access to a vast heritage of verbal riches in songs, stories, historical accounts, poems, and prayers from around the world. There are also more formal achievements to recognise: nearly 200 different languages are spoken in Australia, and as many as 50 of them are available for formal study across twelve years. Nowhere else in the world is there anything even remotely like this development in languages education. Truly something to celebrate--and protect!

As most of us know only too well, however, there is not an open embrace of Australia's linguistic and cultural diversity everywhere, and this has largely been the case since European settlement. The underlying reasons for this, and the fits and starts on the path to a less constrained languages education policy, are explored by Crozet in her article in this issue.

Before that, in our first article, Schmidt and Schweer set out details of a language learning project that integrates the generic learning skills espoused by universities with the language development that intermediate students need, while at the same time engaging with content appropriate to tertiary study. …

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