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SOLL team wins ARC Centre of Excellence

A team from SOLL (Gillian Wigglesworth, Janet Fletcher, Rachel Nordlinger and Nick Thieberger) have received ARC Centre of Excellence funding (ANU is the lead and we are a major partner) that will commence in July 2014. This is an exciting project that will develop research around language processing, acquisition, evolution, and fieldwork. For more details see: http://www.paradisec.


Linguist finds efficiencies using NeCTAR cloud: Lauren Gawne in the news

Lauren Gawne  who has just completed a PhD thesis on a linguistic description of a Tibeto-Burman language of Nepal called Lamjung Yolmo at The University of Melbourne.

Lauren is an example of a humanities researcher using the NeCTAR cloud.

While not a software engineer, technical person or systems administrator, Lauren has embraced the NeCTAR cloud technology and says it is creating new online efficiencies, cost savings and collaborations.

More information: “Linguist finds efficiencies using NeCTAR cloud,” on the NeCTAR website

UNESCO heritage adds PARADISEC digital archive to its Memory of the World register

A digital collection of endangered languages, co‐managed by The University of Melbourne, has been added to the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World collection to protect it for future generations.

The collection PARADISEC (Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures) was created to digitise research and cultural records to make sure they don’t get lost, damaged or destroyed.

“The archive contains over 8900 entries based on research and projects on endangered languages and cultures around the world,” said Dr Nick Thieberger, a Senior Research Fellow in the University’s School of Languages and Linguistics and a PARADISEC Project Manager.

More information: “UNESCO heritage adds digital archive of endangered cultural records,” on The Melbourne Newsroom website.

Melbourne Linguistics ranked top in the country and sixth in the world

Linguistics at The University of Melbourne has been academic research paper ranked sixth in the world by the QS index.

“The QS World University Rankings is regarded as one of the three most influential and widely observed international university rankings, along with the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the Academic Ranking of World Universities.”

See more at the Articulation blog on the Faculty of Arts website.

Dr Nick Thieberger has been awarded a Ludwig Leichhardt Jubilee Fellowship by the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Dr Nick Thieberger from the newly formed Research Unit for Indigenous Language in the School of Languages and Linguistics at The University of Melbourne has been awarded a Ludwig Leichhardt Jubilee Fellowship by the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

The University of Melbourne press release: “Fellowship symbolises bond between Australia and Germany,” on the Research News blog

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation press release: “Research fellowships in memory of Australia researcher Ludwig Leichhardt,” on the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation website.


Training session in language documentation tools

On March 14th we ran a training day for students at the various Melbourne universities and for community-based language workers.

We covered the tools Elan (Bill Forshaw and Lauren Gawne), Fieldworks (Kate Horrack), Toolbox (Simon Musgrave) and ExSite9, as well as a discussion of regular expressions and the general workflow around using the tools (Nick Thieberger).

Slides from the presentations are included below:

Data Management Overview (9.29Mb pdf)

Elan Presentation (380kb pdf)

Introduction to Toolbox (755kb pdf)

Fieldworks Language Explorer (FLEx) (585kb pdf)

Professor Gillian Wigglesworth, the Director of the University's Indigenous Language Research Unit, said bilingual education was vital to the development of young children in communities where languages other than English were spoken at home

Professor Gillian Wigglesworth, the Director of the University’s Indigenous Language Research Unit, said bilingual education was vital to the development of young children in communities where languages other than English were spoken at home.

From: “Academics urge government to heed indigenous language report,” on the Phys Org website.

“Without a bilingual program, children are being taught in a language they are not familiar with. This means they often don’t understand what is going on, and then don’t engage,” she said. According to the Our Land Our Language report – tabled in Federal Parliament by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs – teaching children in their first language in preschool (before gradually increasing the amount of English used in the classroom) resulted in higher literacy rates by Year 7 in English and the first language. “We know from many studies both here and internationally, that teaching children using their first language is the best way for them to learn anything, including a second language,” Professor Wigglesworth said.

“Children come to school with a lot of knowledge about language – their first language – and we need to build on this knowledge.”The report recommended several other measures to slow the loss of indigenous languages and improve educational outcomes for indigenous people in remote areas. These included constitutional recognition of indigenous languages, support for interpreter services (especially in the health and justice sectors) and ways of ensuring that Australia’s linguistic heritage is protected into the future, by supporting regional language centres and archives. Professor Wigglesworth is optimistic the report will have an impact. “Hopefully now that this report has been tabled, various governments will see that the weight of evidence supports measures such as bilingual education, appropriate language and cultural training for teachers working in indigenous communities and recognition of the contribution that indigenous teachers can make, as well as alternatives to NAPLAN testing that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of a student’s language. “We have a real chance of improving the lives of the tens of thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for whom a one-size-fits-all education system has not been successful.” “But for that to happen, we need the governments to get behind the committee’s findings and act immediately,” she said.

More information: “Our Land, Our Languages: Language Learning in Indigenous Communities.” (5.4Mb pdf)

Linguistics PhD student Sara Ciesielski wins distance and sprint thesis description prizes

Sara Ciesielski has won the three minute thesis competition at The University of Melbourne for her thesis description: Learning to be Sherpa: Children, language and culture on the roof of the world. She has won a Travelling Scholarship to the value of $4,500, will compete in the 2012 Asia-Pacific competition taking place at the University of Queensland, and has a perpetual trophy – the McPhee Cup.

And, showing she is as good in the sprint as in the long-distance, Sara has also won one of the two-minute thesis prizes in the international competition run by PhD Comics.

More information: “Two-minute Thesis Competition Winners,” on the PHD Comics website.

Advertisement for Professor of Applied Linguistics & Director LTRC

The Language Testing Research Centre (LTRC), a formally constituted university centre located within the School of Languages and Linguistics, is an international leader in research and development in language assessment and language program evaluation. The Centre plays a key role with regards to the research strategy of the School of Languages and Linguistics in terms of research income, project development, capability building in both research and research training, and stakeholder engagement.

Research and academic articulation between the Centre and the rest of the School is excellent, in particular with the Linguistics and Applied Linguistics program.

The LTRC is currently seeking a Director to lead the Unit. In this role you will be responsible for the management of the Centre within the organizational, policy and strategic framework established by the University and the Department. Your primary role will be to attract revenue for the Centre from both international and external sources, to develop and implement the Centre’s business strategy under the direction of the Head of School, to encourage the pursuit of excellence in research, to seek new opportunities for the enhancement of the international standing of the LTRC and the SOLL, to provide academic and administrative leadership within the Centre and to facilitate a collegial and productive working environment. You will also be expected to make a substantial contribution to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching programs in Applied Linguistics.