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Analysis and Comment (26)

Wilting away? Wilting away? rosipaw

Latin is dead? Long live Latin!

A little item buried on the inside pages of newspapers recently caused a small stir. Latin plant names, it was claimed, were “in danger of dying out”, following a decision by the International Botanical…
Three works by the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez are suggested for Spanish A Level. Three works by the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez are suggested for Spanish A Level. Leonardo Munoz/EPA

New modern language A Levels could reinvigorate passion for French, German and Spanish

As part of its revamp of the A Level curriculum, the government has launched a consultation on the way modern languages are taught at sixth form. If introduced, the changes herald a real boost to the teaching…
Learning braille is liberating so it’s time to modernise. Learning braille is liberating so it’s time to modernise. Dave Halberstadt

Good vibrations bring braille into the 21st century

Even in a world of digital devices, braille continues to be a vital part of life for blind people. For nearly 200 years, this versatile writing system has allowed them to learn, work and live in a more…
The Duolingo owl is becoming a familiar face on smartphones. The Duolingo owl is becoming a familiar face on smartphones. mwkelley

How smartphone apps are revolutionising language learning

When the iPhone launched in 2007, few could have predicted the impact it would have on education. One of the most powerful developments in education has been the arrival of language learning apps. Regardless…
Where is the Welsh? Increasingly online. Where is the Welsh? Increasingly online. Alan Fryer

Minority languages fight for survival in the digital age

Language is about much more than just about talking to each other; it’s one of the bases of identity and culture. But as the world becomes increasingly globalised and reliant on technology, English has…
Lost in translation. Lost in translation. Gwenaël Piaser

We need to fall back in love with learning languages

The drop in applications to European language programmes at UK universities will not have come as a great shock to anybody teaching languages. For at least the past 15 years, the number of students applying…
Modern diplomacy requires a more delicate touch. Modern diplomacy requires a more delicate touch. Haydn West/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Parlez-vous diplomacy? English won’t serve the UK abroad

A report from the British Academy has warned that a lack of foreign language skills could undermine the UK’s future security and capacity for global influence. The report warns of an apathy towards language…
Does it matter if most Massive Open Online Courses are in English? Does it matter if most Massive Open Online Courses are in English? Language image from www.shutterstock.com

MOOCs and the language barrier: is open education not so open after all?

For many educators, the dream feels tantalisingly close: free, quality education for everyone in the world. The arrival of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs led to predictions of a great new age of…
Chinese language learning is happening but we need more. Chinese language learning is happening but we need more. cawdvt

Boris is right, it’s time for us to learn Chinese

I found myself in wholehearted agreement with Boris Johnson, as he took the opportunity of his trip to China to express his opinion that British children should learn Mandarin. China has come a long way…
Publishing a peer-reviewed paper isn’t easy, but new research confirms it’s worth the fight. Publishing a peer-reviewed paper isn’t easy, but new research confirms it’s worth the fight. Cartoon by Nick Kim, Massey University, Wellington

Predicting who will publish or perish as career academics

It doesn’t matter whether or not you think it’s fair: if you’re an academic, your publishing record will have a crucial impact on your career. It can profoundly affect your prospects for employment, for…
Forget Spanish, French or German - try learning a coding language instead. Forget Spanish, French or German - try learning a coding language instead. Ivana Vasilj

Learn computerese as a second language (that’s code for code)

If horror meister Stephen King was a computer programmer, his language of choice would probably be COBOL: it’s quite verbose in exposition, has been around for ages and people still make a lot of money…
Steven Bird demonstrates the use of a smartphone for recording oral literature. Steven Bird demonstrates the use of a smartphone for recording oral literature. Steven Bird

Emerging writers of the Amazon: putting vanishing voices in print

My team and I recently ventured into the Brazilian Amazon to record the Tembé language and preserve some of its stories for future generations. This built on earlier work with our mobile phone app that…
Augustine, one of the few remaining speakers of Tembé, recording a story using an Android phone. Augustine, one of the few remaining speakers of Tembé, recording a story using an Android phone. Steven Bird

Androids in Amazonia: recording an endangered language

The village of Akazu’yw lies in the rainforest, a day’s drive from the state capital of Belém, deep in the Brazilian Amazon. Last week I went to Akazu’yw, carrying a dozen Android phones with a specialised…
Endangered languages are being preserved using cheap mobile phones. Endangered languages are being preserved using cheap mobile phones. Steven Bird

Cyberlinguistics: recording the world’s vanishing voices

Of the 7,000 languages spoken on the planet, Tembé is at the small end with just 150 speakers left. In a few days, I will head into the Brazilian Amazon to record Tembé – via specially-designed technology…
There’s plenty of excitement around Duolingo – a new idea to learn languages while translating the web. But does it work? There’s plenty of excitement around Duolingo – a new idea to learn languages while translating the web. But does it work? Words image from www.shutterstock.com

Learning a language and translating the web: does Duolingo work?

Duolingo, a new free language-learning site, says it can help you learn a language for free while simultaneously using your learning exercises to translate the web. A pretty big claim, but at the heart…
Asian languages are important, but they should be one part of a greater focus on Asia in the curriculum. Asian languages are important, but they should be one part of a greater focus on Asia in the curriculum. Asian image from www.shutterstock.com

Across the curriculum: access to Asian languages isn’t everything

Despite the breadth of issues in the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper released this week, so far the debate has focused largely on language learning in schools. With fewer and fewer students…
We don’t know where we’re going, but we know where we’ve bean. We don’t know where we’re going, but we know where we’ve bean.

Lentil as anything: the pulse of the past is in food words

No matter where in the world you live, chances are you’ve eaten “pulses” some time in the last week. These foods, otherwise known as “food legumes” or “grain legumes,” have been a part of the human diet…
Plagiarism is happening at universities, but technology is not the way to solve the problem. Plagiarism is happening at universities, but technology is not the way to solve the problem. Computer image from www.shutterstock.com

Delusions of candour: why technology won’t stop plagiarism

Plagiarism at university is a time-old scourge. Some would have us believe it can be sought out with ever-improving technology, and with more consistent vetting of student essays with the latest detection…
Students learn Korean, one of four principal Asian languages being promoted in Australian schools. The others are Mandarin, Japanese and Indonesian. Students learn Korean, one of four principal Asian languages being promoted in Australian schools. The others are Mandarin, Japanese and Indonesian. EPA/STR

$2bn needed to achieve Abbott’s language vision

Language experts have applauded Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s pledge to dramatically boost foreign language education, but warn that a financial investment of about $2 billion and a long-term commitment…
A British sense of superiority: Australia shows little interest in the Asia, despite its rapid rise. A British sense of superiority: Australia shows little interest in the Asia, despite its rapid rise. EPA/Made Nagi

Australia must overcome superiority complex to learn from rising Asia

There will be no more important piece of policy making this year than the White Paper on “Australia in the Asian Century” led by Ken Henry. It is a rare case of long-term thinking in government, of policy…
Learning an Asian language will change how you think about the world. Learning an Asian language will change how you think about the world. no_typographic_man

Want to get ahead this century? Learn an Asian language

AUSTRALIA IN THE ASIAN CENTURY – A series examining Australia’s role in the rapidly transforming Asian region. Delivered in partnership with the Australian government. Today, Dr Yuko Kinoshita looks at…
Few have made such a significant contribution to political thought as Noam Chomsky. Few have made such a significant contribution to political thought as Noam Chomsky. AAP/Tracy Nearmy

Chomsky, linguistics, politics and a response to an unfair allegation

Noam Chomsky’s political detractors typically resort to misrepresentation and vilification but one might expect a higher standard from academic colleagues, especially in his own discipline of linguistics…
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao. AAP

Learning to live in the Asian century

AUSTRALIA IN ASIA: In the fifth part of our series, Kathe Kirby of the University of Melbourne examines whether our education system is preparing children for the future. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has…

Research and News (3)