Working towards a socially inclusive multilingual Victoria

15 December 2010

Year 12 student Brooke van Eerden from Caulfield Grammar School and her senior project partner Harald Ziemer share their project experiences with the audience in one of the target languages, German'
Year 12 student Brooke van Eerden from Caulfield Grammar School and her senior project partner Harald Ziemer share their project experiences with the audience in one of the target languages, German'

A celebratory event was held recently at the Monash Club to thank community volunteers for their participation in the Monash Intergenerational Languages and Schools project (MILSP 2010-2012).

MILSP attempts to enable monolingual English speakers to participate in Australia's multilingualism. The project brings together, in hourly fortnightly conversations, upper secondary school learners of Chinese, German or Spanish and older speakers of the language.

The project aims to give younger Australians learning a second language the opportunity to meet and converse with older bilingual people whose first language the students are learning. Participants can also assess the effects of such encounters on the students' L2 proficiency, conversation management skills, language attitudes, intercultural knowledge, attitudes to ageing; and assess the effects on the well-being and self-esteem, empowerment and feeling of belonging of older bilingual Australians.

The project demonstrates the strong links between the Faculty of Arts and researchers in the field of ageing and inter-generational programs from the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.

With funding obtained from an Australian Research Council (ARC) grant, the project, initially led by Professor Michael Clyne, is run by a team of academics from the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics (Arts); Dr Marisa Cordella, Dr Hui Huang, and from the School of Primary Health Care, Professor Colette Browning.

Two PhD students are also part of the team: Mr Andrés Villamizar in the Spanish program and Ms Tong Shen in the Chinese program, as well as Ms Ramona Baumgartner, who assists with project coordination and the German program.

At the celebration, The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ed Byrne, awarded 42 elderly migrants from Germany, China and Latin America with 'Golden language guru' certificates. The While 43 students from Caulfield Grammar School (Wheelers Hill), Glen Waverley Secondary College and Wantirna Secondary College received their certificates from Professor Rae Frances, Dean of the Faculty of Arts. Six Monash University students of German and their nine elderly partners were also awarded certificates.

Professor Clyne passed away shortly after the celebration and the Monash community acknowledges his contribution to the University and the program.

For more information, visit the Monash Intergenerational Languages and Schools project website.