2015 RCLC Symposium - The nature of learning in languages education

The RCLC is holding its 8th Annual Symposium on 26 and 27 November 2015 at the City West Campus.  This year’s theme is The nature of learning in languages education.  The concept of learning would appear to be central to any understanding of language learning, but it is a concept that has been given little serious attention in applied linguistics. In the context of globalisation and the increasingly complex, multilingual and multicultural character of the contemporary world, there is a pressing need to reconsider what ‘learning’ means in the context of language education. This context challenges the largely monolingual understanding of learning that has prevailed in traditional SLA. It also challenges the predominantly functional, communicative orientation that has not sufficiently foregrounded the diverse, situated meanings that learning a particular language holds for diverse learners, with distinctive affiliations with the language being learnt.

Although there has been substantial theoretical expansion in understanding language and culture, less attention has been devoted to the conceptualisation of learning itself – its substance, processes and meanings for diverse individuals. The purpose of this symposium is to consider the nature and characteristics of learning in languages education – in relation to both teaching and learning and to assessment – recognising that the way researchers and educators understand language learning is highly influential in shaping languages education.

If you would like more details about the symposium please contact

ALAA/ALANZ/ALTAANZ 2015 Conference

The Research Centre for Languages and Cultures is hosting the fourth combined conference of the Applied Linguistics Association of Australia (ALAA), the Applied Linguistics Association of New Zealand (ALANZ) and Association for Language Testing and Assessment of Australia and New Zealand (ALTAANZ) in Adelaide from Monday 30 November to Wednesday 2 December 2015.

See the conference website for more information 

Communicating work health and safety in the context of cultural and linguistic diversity in aged care

On April16, the Research Centre for Languages and Cultures and the Asia Pacific Centre for Work Health and Safety, University of South Australia, together with Helping Hand Aged Care, held a workshop and launch of the report Communicating work health and safety in the context of cultural and linguistic diversity in aged care. The event was attended by representatives from the aged care industry, WHS sector and multicultural affairs organisations, with the report officially launched by the Pro Vice Chancellor Professor Denise Meredyth.

The report responds to unprecedented changes in the Australian aged care sector. The population is aging, traditional sources of care such as the extended family are less readily available, and there is a shortage of skilled personnel in the labour market. Combined with the changing demographics of the Australian workforce in general, there has been a significant increase in the cultural and linguistic diversity among staff and residents.

The report is based on an extensive study of communication in aged care in this context of cultural and linguistic diversity within the aged care sector, and provides recommendations on how workers, employers and residents can accomplish safety in care in this increasingly complex environment.

The research identifies ways in which diverse linguistic and cultural groups work together to develop safe work practices and more enriching experiences of work and care for those involved. Based on the findings of the report, strategies for improving communication of health and safety at work are outlined. 

The website can be found at:

Southern Multilingualism and Diversities: Some reflections

On Thursday, 12 February 2015, Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Professor Christopher Stroud gave a presentation on Southern Multilingualism and Diversities: Some reflections.  The global south has long been characterised by a high degree of diversity in terms of language, culture, faith, geographic setting, and spatial mobility. While matters of diversity in the north were subsumed under various regimes of nationalism and notions of the nation-state from the late 18th to late 20th century, attempts to constrain diversity by such means in the south during colonial rule have never been particularly successful. Meanwhile, in the north, systems based on the nation-state, inflexible borders and homogeneity are under strain and borders are becoming increasingly porous. In more recent years, debates in the north have intensified in order that institutions might understand and adjust to new diversities following new translocal technologies, global economies and contemporary changes in the mobility of peoples.

Despite the crisis of diversity in the north, understandings of multilingualism and diversity, and the political and educational structures of multilingualism and diversity that build on them, continue to be seen through the lens of northern epistemologies and methodologies. This paper asks what it would mean to consider (linguistically mediated) diversities from a vantage point of the south, and what possibilities such a perspective might offer for new and more enriching engagements with debates of the north. Importantly it asks wherein a distinct particularity of southern epistemologies of multilingualism and diversities might lie.

Christopher Stroud is Senior Professor of Linguistics and Director for the Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research, University of the Western Cape, South Africa, and Professor of Transnational Multilingualism at the Centre for Research on Bilingualism, Stockholm University. His ethnographic and sociolinguistic research has taken place in Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sweden and South Africa. His more recent work focuses on linguistic citizenship, linguistic landscapes, and the mobilities and margins of multilingualism. 

Languishing behind: Towards a politics of language for a linguistics of contact 

The Research Centre for Languages and Cultures together with the Ministerial Advisory Committee: Multicultural Education Committee presented a public lecture by Professor Christopher Stroud. Professor Stroud is a senior professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa and an affiliated professor in bilingual research in the Centre for Research on Bilingualism at Stockholm University in Sweden.

An increasingly major preoccupation confronting contemporary societies is how to accommodate the ‘non-mainstream speaker’ – the transnational migrant, the indigenous minority, or the socioeconomically disadvantaged. It is fairly uncontested that some form of educational provision of nondominant languages is a necessary, although far from sufficient, condition for the nurturing of empowered and participatory citizens (Stroud, 2001; Stroud and Heugh, 2004). This is particularly the case for those who are most marginalized in society – mother tongue speakers of non-official languages – as linguistic recognition of the least acknowledged is an important first step in also recognizing the official and informal structures of symbolic and material reproduction that continue to ensure the invisibility and silence of many minorities. However, a central argument in this paper is that much language (political) provision currently in place is counterproductive and, in point of fact, actually reproductive of the very forms of linguistic marginalization it is set to remedy. Not surprisingly, this also applies to much of the language educational provisions that follow from such paradigms. The focus of this paper is precisely on exploring the nature of the problems in contemporary language politics and in attempting to formulate new directions for a politics of language in a notion of Linguistic Citizenship that addresses issues of social, economic and political injustice for marginalized populations of minority or non-dominant language speakers.

RCLC Annual Symposium, Public Forum and Symposium

The Research Centre for Languages and Cultures hosted its 6th annual symposium and free Public Forum on Monday, 18 August 2014.  The theme of these events was Diversities, Affinities and Diaspora and brought together a group of high-profile, internationally respected scholars working on multilingualism and multiculturalism.  The symposium was designed to explore the changing nature of languages, cultures and identities in diverse global settings, partly as a consequence of mobility. 

Following the symposium, the RCLC hosted the first roundtable meeting of a new collaborative network, the Southern Multilingualisms and Diversities Consortium, chaired by AsPr Kathleen Heugh (RCLC) and Christopher Stroud (Stockholm University and University of the Western Cape).  This initiative follows a current trajectory of research specialisations of both centres, which is to develop evidence-based capability in and theory of linguistic diversity as this occurs in different contexts. The consortium consists of a group of research-active scholars who are renowned for their scholarly work and research associations with prominent institutions in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Australia.  For more information on these events please see:

Diversities, Affinities and Diaspora - Program and Abstracts

Public Forum Program

Southern Multilingualisms and Diversities Consortium

Multicultural Education belongs to tomorrow, not yesterday

Thursday 31 October 2013

The Ministerial Advisory Committee:  Multicultural Education Committee (MEC) hosted a public lecture by  Professor Joseph Lo Bianco.  In the lecture, Professor Lo Bianco argued that multicultural education, properly re-imagined for the challenges and realities of the 21st century, remains a critical focus for Australian education. 

This lecture was introduced by the newly appointed Chair of the Multicultural Education Committee, Associate Professor Angela Scarino.

2013 Symposium - Translation as intercultural mediation

Research Centre for Languages and Cultures – 2013 Symposium
14-15 November 2013
Bradley Forum, City West Campus

On the face of it, the task in translation is to rework a text written in one language into another so as to make available to a new audience something they would not otherwise be able to access. This means that a translator is involved in communicating meanings that have been constructed in one language—with its accompanying cultural contexts, for readers who share the language and participate in some way in that culture—to an audience that does not share that language and culture. Hence translation cannot entail simply reproducing the meanings of one text in another language; rather, after constructing a reading of the text and its intention, the translator must rearticulate meanings for new audiences. Through the medium—and mediation—of the translator’s voice multiple linguistic and cultural framings are brought into relation so that meanings may be communicated across linguistic and cultural boundaries.

Mediation may be intrapersonal, and involve the individual in understanding the meanings of another’s language and culture. Or it may be interpersonal, and communicate meanings to another who does not share the linguistic and cultural framings in which the meaning was communicated.

Translators are potentially involved in both such forms of mediation, but in their work the interpersonal dimension of mediation is very much foregrounded. This interpersonal dimension may be made more complex, and problematic, by pressures on the translator to become invisible, and to make the act of translation transparent (to use Venuti’s metaphors), where the audience reads a translation not as the product of another’s language and culture but as a product of the language and culture into which a text has been translated. The audience may not be aware of, or give significance to, the act of translation that has produced the text being read. In this way, intercultural mediation of the translator may be ‘off the record’, at least in some contexts.

At the other extreme, the issue of the translator’s mediation can reflect the potential intersection between mediation and cultural appropriation in a text, or mediation and the discourse of power.  Filtering down to the specifics, the translator’s intercultural mediation is reflected in the need to negotiate culture-bound terminology, semantic gaps between languages and the like.

The translator’s work can be investigated from multiple perspectives. It can be seen in the ways translators position themselves between languages and cultures and engage in the processes of mediation. It can be seen in the ways that translators themselves are brought into the process of mediation through their education. It can also be seen in the ways that education in the processes and practices of translation is, or can provide, education in the process and practices of intercultural mediation. This symposium aims to provide an opportunity to investigate such issues across a range of languages, cultures and contexts.

As in previous years, the symposium hosted internationally respected scholars. This year’s symposium included the following speakers:

  • Professor Michael Grenfell, Trinity College, Dublin
  • Professor Sandra Hale, University of New South Wales
  • Professor David Katan, University of Salento, Italy
  • Associate Professor Kevin Windle, Australian National University
  • Dr Mino Saito, Tokai University, Japan
  • Dr Michael Walsh, AIATSIS and University of Sydney
  • Dr Isobel Grave, Dr Christopher Hogarth, Dr Michelle Kohler, Professor Tony Liddicoat, Dr Ioana Petrescu, Associate Professor Angela Scarino, Andrew Scrimgeour, University of South Australia

Interculturality and Intercultural Pragmatics 

Tuesday 29 October 2013
5.00 pm ­– 6.00 pm
University of South Australia, Magill Campus, Room C1.60
Register by emailing available from 4.30 pm
Refreshments available from 4.30 pm

Istvan Kesckes

This presentation attempts to define interculturality in a socio-cognitive framework and relate it to current pragmatics research. Intercultural Pragmatics is a relatively new field of inquiry that is about how the language system is put to use in social encounters between human beings who have different first languages, communicate in a common language, and, usually, represent different cultures (Kecskes 2004; Kecskes 2010). The communicative process in these encounters is synergistic in the sense that it is a merger in which pragmatic norms of each participant are represented to some extent. Intercultural pragmatics represents a socio-cognitive perspective in which individual prior experience and actual situational experience are equally important in meaning construction and comprehension. Research in intercultural pragmatics has four main foci: 1) interaction between native speakers and non-native speakers of a language, 2) lingua franca communication in which none of the interlocutors has the same L1, 3) multilingual discourse, and 4) language use and development of individuals who speak more than one language.

Istvan Kecskes  is Professor of Education at the State University of New York at Albany. He is the founding editor of the linguistics journal Intercultural Pragmatics and the Mouton Series in Pragmatics. He sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Pragmatics and the International Journal of Multilingualism. His publications include the book, Foreign Language and Mother Tongue (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000). 

2012 Symposium

3 - 4 December 2012

The Research Centre for Languages and Cultures at the University of South Australia is excited to present a symposium on Language and Wellbeing: Perspectives on education and health.

Each year the University of South Australia’s Research Centre for Languages and Cultures hosts an applied linguistics symposium designed to encourage discussion and debate on a diverse range of issues related to language and languages.

This year’s symposium will stimulate discussion around the relationship between language and wellbeing in the contexts of education and health.

2011 Symposium

Shifting sands: Perspectives on the changing face of languages education in the Asia-Pacific region

14 - 15 November 2011 

The continuing globalisation of education, in tandem with migration trends and significant socio-economic developments in the Asia-Pacific region that have changed the geopolitical landscape, gives pause for thought concerning the evolving role of languages education in this part of the world. In particular, these things raise questions about how and on what basis governments and educational institutions are promoting both languages in general as well as specific languages, the degree of uptake by students, the way in which educators think about languages and design and deliver language curricula, and how languages taught in the region sit in relation to one another - and, most intriguingly perhaps, the role of English in relation to that of Asian languages.

This year's Symposium, then, has a distinctly regional focus and its three sub-themes have been chosen to allow for an expansive discussion of key issues and debates. As such it promises to be a particularly relevant and engaging event for those of us involved in languages education in the Asia-Pacific region.

Click here to download the flyer.

2010 Symposium

The Research Centre for Languages and Cultures held its annual symposium on 2-3 December 2010. The symposium placed a spotlight on the changing dynamics, theory and research of linguistic and cultural diversity in the international arena. In particular, discussions in this symposium highlighted the challenges and dynamic responses to Indigenous Australian and new migrant languages, cultures and education.

Public forum

Languages in flux: the place of Chinese and English in the Asia-Pacific region

14 November 2011
5.00 - 6.30 pm
Sir Hans Heysen Building room HH3-08
UniSA, City West

The Research Centre for Languages and Cultures (RCLC) is privileged to present a seminar featuring distinguished scholars of international renown who will offer individual perspectives and insights on the status and roles of the Chinese and English languages, particularly in the context of China as the emerging economic and political superpower in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. 

Among other things, the discussion promises to provoke questions around notions of language and power, the nature of the relationship between English and Chinese, and whether and under what circumstances English might be usurped by Chinese as the world's lingua franca.

The discussion promises to be of interest to all those involved in language, languages education, language change and the social, political and economic forces that govern the perception and influence of languages.

Click here to download the flyer.

Click here to download the abstracts.

Please email to register.

Research seminars

All seminars are held 4pm-5pm in room C1-41 on the Magill Campus of the University of South Australia. All are welcome to attend. If you would like to receive a weekly reminder of the upcoming seminar, send an email

Click here to download the seminar program for study period 5.

Italian language and culture symposium (3 - 4 June 2011)

 The Italian Ambassador to Australia attended a two-day symposium hosted by the Research Centre for Languages and Cultures. The symposium explored new ideas around the teaching and learning of Italian language and culture. Click here to read the full story.


The Centre maintains a wide network of colleagues in related fields and runs a ongoing program of visiting scholars that complements and supplements its interdisciplinary research and program areas. 

Visitors typically contribute to the research culture of the Centre through:

  • collaborative research
  • public lectures
  • guest lectures on teaching programs associated with the Centre
  • participation in the Centre Research Seminar Series (weekly presentations and discussions on research issues)

Over the last five years the Centre has been visited by researchers with national and international reputations in the fields of languages and cultures, languages education, applied linguistics and international education. These include:

  • Genevieve Zarate
    Professor of Language Education at the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilisations
  • Heidi Byrnes
    George M Roth Distinguished Professor of German at the Georgetown University
  • Jasone Cenoz
    Professor of Education, University of the Basque Country
  • Durk Gorter
    Ikerbasque Research Professor, Faculty of Education, University of the Basque Country
  • Vai Ramanathan
    Professor of Linguistics, University of California Davis
  • Michael Paige
    Professor of International and Intercultural Education, University of Minnesota
  • Josef A. Mestenhauser
    Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Educational Policy and Administration, University of Minnesota
  • Claire Kramsch
    Professor of German and Foreign Language Acquisition, University of California Berkley
  • Joseph Lo Bianco
    Professor of Language and Literacy Education, University of Melbourne
  • Jane Knight
    Adjunct Professor, Ontario Institute of Education, University of Toronto

Areas of study and research

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