Australia: Universities target language wall

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Jan 1 14:48:25 UTC 2007

Unis target language wall



THE University of the Sunshine Coast has joined with three other
universities across the country to improve communication between Indonesia
and Australia.  USC lecturer Dr Phillip Mahnken said the decrease in
Indonesian language programs in Australia had prompted the development of
a joint language venture involving USC, Charles Darwin University, the
University of New England and the University of Tasmania. Dr Mahnken said
the Indonesian language program would enable Australia to communicate more
efficiently with its closest Asian neighbour.

This project will update and revitalise Indonesian language teaching and
learning, he said. This collaboration between four regional universities,
with input from our friends all over Australia and overseas, will combine
our various strengths, give students much wider experiences and promote
Indonesian learning. Dr Mahnken said the program received a $22,000 grant
to devise online and in-country courses in Indonesia, which allowed
Australian students travelling to the country to further develop their
language skills. The virtual campus need no longer be just text-based.

We can share images, web pages, powerpoints and be talking and listening
to each other and native speakers in real time about opinions, experiences
and complex ideas. Thats perfect for language learning, he said. Dr
Mahnken said Indonesian language programs were suffering more than others,
most likely as a result of recent events tarnishing Indonesias reputation.
Understandably Australian attitudes are influenced when the media
highlights economic crash, tsunami, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions,
widespread corruption and poverty, bird flu, two Islamist-inspired
bombings in Bali that claimed nearly 100 Australian lives, repression in
Aceh and West Papua and young Australian drug dealers in Indonesian jails,
he said. Teachers of Indonesian maintain that when our nearest Asian
neighbour is in such trouble, the smart policy for Australian security is
to know all we can about the place and the people.

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