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Past projects

Multiculturalism and the multilingual landscape of a Sydney suburb
Phil Benson

Located 14km from the Sydney CBD, Eastwood is one of several districts in the city that are attracting attention as representatives of a new model of suburban multiculturalism.  In contrast to the older ethnic enclaves of Chinatown or Little Italy, Eastwood is a middle-class, residential and linguistically diverse suburb, in which 60 per cent of residents have a first language other than English. While representations of multiculturalism in Australia tend to foreground cultural diversity within an essentially English-speaking framework, the linguistic landscape of Eastwood's commercial heart, in which English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese can sometimes be found on a single shop front, foregrounds multilingualism. An in-depth, multi-level analysis of the linguistic landscape of Eastwood explores how multilingualism both indexes the ethnic identities of businesses and multicultural identity of the suburb as a whole and plays important functional roles in mediating social and commercial interaction. The project aims to support an official conception of multicultural Australia that pays more attention to linguistic diversity and language maintenance than it does at present.

(In)visibility of multiculturalism
Alice Chik

A stroll in the neighbourhood would confirm that many suburbs in Sydney are among the most culturally diverse Australian suburbs. However, little is known about how local institutions and businesses represent this diversity on their websites. This is an important issue because visibility of multiculturalism on websites creates the first impression of a suburb for visitors and prospective residents, and contributes to public image of the suburb.

This study examined websites maintained by city councils, schools, and property agencies to assess the online visibility of multiculturalism.

Visibility of multiculturalism online: Case studies of Bankstown and Auburn

A report for The Multicultural Network [pdf]

Multilingual teachers for multilingual schools? 
Robyn Moloney and Andrew Giles 

At least one third of university students training to be primary or secondary teachers (pre-service teachers) speak one or more non-English languages. Not surprisingly, this matches the average representation of children in school classrooms learning English as an additional language. While teacher education programs stress the understanding and skills necessary for teaching in diverse classrooms, little attention has been paid to the cultural and linguistic diversity within the pre-service teacher cohort. This study examines fifteen multilingual pre-service teachers' perceptions of their linguistic identity, tertiary studies, experience during practicum teaching and their beliefs about their future teaching career. The findings reveal dynamic, hybrid, empowered multilingual identities within their personal lives. In their university study, however their skills are invisible and unvalued, as no overt links are made between their linguistic identities and their developing professional skills as young teachers.  Experiences during practicum included both valuable linguistic interactions in diverse schools, and feelings of exclusion from the norm in monolingual schools. The pre-service teachers were insightful as to their potential and skills of empathy and linguistic awareness they possessed, which could enhance student learning. The positive opportunities they had to value their multilingual ability, can encourage self-perception as 'multi-dimensional educators'. The study indicates the need, within the limiting discourse of Australian multiculturalism, for Teacher Standards, teacher education and schools to recognise what is currently an invisible and lost potential, for multilingual teachers' abilities to be a teaching and learning resource, in order for them both to achieve an integrated professional identity, and to play a role in supporting student learning outcomes in schools.

Positive ageing for all
Alice Chik, Jacqueline Mackaway, Peter Roger, Tanya Evans, Frances Rapport, Michael Fine, Beatriz Cardona & Roxana Rascon

 The project explores the opportunity to foster inclusiveness, for diverse senior communities to listen and learn from each other, and for younger people to participate in inter-generational understanding. Ageing involves new and unfamiliar everyday encounters, in which language plays a crucial role (e.g. explaining that ‘pain in the fingers’ to the doctor, or getting home cleaning help from the government). These everyday encounters can be challenging for native English-speaking seniors, but for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) seniors who speak English as their second language, they can be intimidating. ‘Positive ageing for all’ records and investigates the challenges associated with new uses of language encountered by seniors living in the Canterbury-Bankstown and Ryde areas, and disseminates effective strategies within and beyond these two suburbs.

Language learning portraits
Alice Chik, Susan Markose, Di Alperstein (Macquarie University) and Silvia Melo-Pfeifer (Hamburg University) 

In today’s multicultural classrooms, educators are increasingly entrusted with the education of plurilingual students whose linguistic identities have rarely been foregrounded in classroom interactions. In this project, we collect language portrait silhouettes produced by teachers in order to help them address the ways of knowing and learning of our diverse student population, it is imperative that educators recognise and incorporate the linguistic and cultural heritage of the students in their classes.

The eBook will be released by mid-2018, teaser version [link]

Negotiating standardised language tests
Phil Chappell, Phil Benson & Lynda Yates

Standardised English language tests are a rite of passage for many internationally mobile, multilingual global citizens. This diverse population brings to the testing day a range of experiences and expectations about tests, and language tests in particular, that may be at odds with the actual design of the test, causing doubt, confusion and anxiety, all of which may ultimately have a negative impact on their internationally-oriented life trajectories. In this study, we explore these differences and the ways that test takers prepare to take the test.

English language learning ‘in the wild’
Phil Chappell, Phil Benson & Lynda Yates

Many international students choose to study English in Australia in the belief that they will improve their communication skills by living in an English-speaking environment. In this study we use qualitative interview and innovative mobile methodologies to gain insight into how students negotiate relationships and geographical place in multilingual Sydney, and the opportunities for and obstacles to out of class learning that they encounter.

Multilingual lives
Jill Murray, Alice Chik, & Phil Benson

The Multilingual Lives research project aims to document and analyze the diversity of multilingualism in Australia through language learning histories. Using visual and narrative interview data the project focuses on the experiences of recent and long-term migrants with European and Asian language backgrounds.

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