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Plenary speakers

Dr Jill Vaughan

University of Melbourne
Valuing multilingualisms: insights from Indigenous Australia

The field of multilingualism research has much to gain from greater attention to the full range of societal multilingualisms, and particularly to contexts of Indigenous and small-scale multilingualism across the globe. In this talk, I highlight language ecologies where hierarchical or polyglossic models of multilingualism, frequently naturalised by nation states, play a more marginal role. These contexts illustrate that forms of ‘superdiversity’ – typically framed as a new phenomenon – have long existed in more ‘peripheral’ local language communities.

Such language ecologies are richly exemplified across Indigenous Australia, where multilingualism, multilectalism and multimodality have long been embedded in social, cultural, spiritual and economic life. Drawing on sociolinguistic research conducted in collaboration with Maningrida community, an Indigenous community in northern Australia, I illustrate the ‘value of languages’ in this highly multilingual context. Here, multilingualism is implicated in territoriality, kinship, mobility and relationships between social groups, and speakers creatively manipulate modern linguistic resources to meet the needs of their rapidly evolving social worlds.

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Jill Vaughan is a research fellow with the Research Unit for Indigenous Language at the University of Melbourne. Her research centres on the sociolinguistics of multilingualism, taking in work on multilingual practices, migration, language variation and change, and language in the classroom across communities in Australia, Ireland and the Irish diaspora. Her current research centres on the linguistically diverse region of Arnhem Land (northern Australia). Recent projects have included documentation of dialectal variation and multilingual repertoires among speakers of Burarra (Maningrida region), collaborative work with community organisations in Maningrida to record artists’ multilingual narratives, and outreach work through The Linguistics Roadshow and the 50 Words Project.

Prof Dr Jannis Androutsopoulos

University of Hamburg & MultiLing, University of Oslo
Polycentric participation and multilingual practices in digital diaspora

This lecture discusses the implications of digital connectivity for the use, maintenance and development of multilingual repertoires. Findings of a multi-sited ethnographic study of digital language and literacy practices of Senegalese-heritage families in Norway are presented (Androutsopoulos & Lexander 2021, Lexander & Androutsopoulos 2021). Adult and adolescent family members use digital media to engage with relationships and projects in Senegal and elsewhere, thereby drawing on rich linguistic repertoires and a wide range of digital apps. To make sense of their language and media practices, the notion of polycentricity, originally coined to study multilingualism in urban neighborhoods (Blommaert et al. 2005), is adapted. A sociolinguistic and discourse analysis of message threads, social media profiles, and interviews with family members leads to identifying four ‘centres’, in which particular language choices are associated with distinct discourses, genres, and imagery. These findings illustrate the impact of digital connectivity on multilingual practices and the value of multilingual resources for transnational participation and community-building in a digitally interconnected world.

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Jannis Androutsopoulos is professor in German and media linguistics at the University of Hamburg, and from 2016-2023 research professor at MultiLing, University of Oslo. His research explores relationships between language, media and society, covering themes such as spelling and script in digital communication, multilingualism online, language ideologies in media discourse, and the role of media in sociolinguistic change. Recent publications include Digital language and literacies: practices, awareness, and pedagogy (Guest-edited Special Issue, Linguistics & Education, 2021), and Polymedia in interaction (Guest-edited Special Issue, Pragmatics & Society, 2021). Jannis coordinates DiLCo, a new research network on “Digital language variation in context” (

A/Prof Dr Alice Chik

Macquarie University
Societal multilingualism in Sydney: The implications for individuals

When it comes to languages and Australia, especially in public discourse, two ideas are persistent: Australia is multilingual but Australians also have a monolingual mindset. Metropolitan Australian cities are not excluded to this ambivalent thinking. Statistically, Sydney is multilingual with the 2016 Census showing that 35.8% of households speak a language other than English. In the media, these are frequently portrayed as migrant households. Government ministers perpetuate the idea that migrants usually do not speak English (well enough). Language subject choices in school do not necessarily reflect students’ linguistic diversity in the communities while community languages are undervalued. So the two perspectives of multilingualism and monolingualism touch on complex social attitudes and perceptions about migration and hierarchy of languages. This talk discusses the dissonance between societal multilingualism and individual monolingualism, and the implications for education and beyond.


Alice Chik is Associate Professor in the School of Education, Macquarie University. Her primary area of research examines language learning and multilingual literacies in digital environments. She also has a particular interest in multilingualism is public discourse, representation, and narratives of everyday multilingual experience. She is the lead co-editor of Multilingual Sydney (Routledge, 2019) and lead author of 'Languages of Sydney: The people and the passion' (Candlin & Mynard, 2019). 

Prof Dr Terry Lamb

University of Westminster
Spaces of hope for a linguistically inclusive society

Globalisation brings with it increasing diversity in our neighbourhoods, and this includes speakers of a wide range of languages. In my talk, I will argue that our diverse languages are of great value for many reasons, but that, despite the recent resurgence in calls for social justice and decolonisation in many parts of the world, the linguistic dimension is mostly ignored and many of our language communities and their languages continue to suffer marginalisation and exclusion. In this talk, however, I will highlight “spaces of hope” for a more linguistically inclusive society. Focusing mainly on the UK and other European countries, I will draw on a range of examples at all levels of society, from mainstream and supplementary education to local public spaces, from city strategies to (inter)national institutions, to support my argument that, despite their tenacity, exclusionary beliefs, practices, policies and structures can indeed be challenged. In so doing, I will reflect on the processes that may be conducive to a shift to a more linguistically inclusive world.

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A former secondary school languages teacher, Terry is Professor of Languages and Interdisciplinary Pedagogy at the University of Westminster, where he leads on both education research and migration research across the university. He has published extensively in the areas of multilingualism and pedagogy for autonomy and is founder editor of the academic journal Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching. Terry has worked closely on languages strategy and curriculum with the UK and other Governments and has been awarded the honour of Chevalier des Palmes Académiques by the French Prime Minister. He is Vice President of FIPLV (Fédération Internationale des Professeurs de Langues Vivantes).

A/Prof Dr Katharina Wolf

Curtin University
More than words: learnings from Australia's COVID-19 communication for multicultural engagement

Multicultural – and in particular multilingual – communities have received a fair share of attention and media coverage throughout Australia’s lived experience of the COVID-19 pandemic to date. Indeed, diverse communities have frequently been unreasonably singled out and characterised as causes for lockdown breaches and reluctant vaccination updates, failing to recognise underlying societal issues and complexities. This plenary proposes that the prevailing focus on the translation of crucial (health) communication falls short of genuine communication needs in respective communities; and indeed Australia’s multicultural identity. Furthermore, it critically explores Federal Government assurances that culturally-diverse communities, via key representatives, would be consulted as part of the evolving health strategy.

This talk explores Australia’s COVID-19 communication through an inclusive communication lens, discussing challenges, shortfalls and most importantly key learning outtakes, which will enable the development of a more inclusive communication response strategy in preparation of future emergencies and disasters.


Katharina Wolf is an Associate Professor in Curtin University’s School of Management and Marketing, Western Australia, and Lead of the university’s public relations program. She is passionate about cross-cultural, public interest and most importantly inclusive communication, which recognises different stakeholder group’s unique needs and priorities.

Katharina draws on more than twenty years of communication and media experience, as an educator and industry professional. Her industry experience encompasses communication and research roles in Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and Australia. 

A/Prof Dr Natascha Klocker

University of Wollongong
Understanding multicultural cities through a household lens

Research on the geographies of urban multiculturalism has focused almost exclusively on individuals as the unit of analysis. Yet, growing numbers of Australians live in ethnically mixed households. A shift in research focus, towards households that are comprised of mixed-ethnicity couples, facilitates distinctive insights into urban ethnic diversity. This plenary, structured in two parts, discusses a body of work developed over the last decade*. The first part quantifies and maps the geographies of ethnic diversity in two Australian cities (Sydney and Darwin) via a focus on mixed-ethnicity households in which the two partners are ‘visibly different’. It shows how these couples transform established urban ethnic landscapes and unsettle seemingly entrenched patterns of ethnic residential separation. The second part details the lived experiences of mixed-ethnicity couples as they go about daily life outside their homes. Couples’ rich insights, gathered through in-depth interviews, convey how marginality and privilege are lived relationally. That is, these experiences differ depending on whether an individual is spending time in public space alone, or alongside a visibly different partner or mixed-ethnicity children. Such experiences lead families to adopt diverse strategies and behaviours, including around language use, to fly under the radar and evade stereotypes. Mixed-ethnicity couples’ experiences of belonging and discrimination shed light on the uneven geographies and temporalities of racism and acceptance.


* This plenary is based on research conducted with Dr Alexander Tindale.


Associate Professor Natascha Klocker works at the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities; and the Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space (ACCESS), University of Wollongong. She is a critical social geographer with a research and teaching focus on discrimination, marginalisation and belonging. Her recent and current research has explored the geographies and experiences of mixed-ethnicity couples, the environmental and agricultural knowledge and skills of migrants, and the rural and regional settlement of former refugees.

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