National web portal for university language courses

The Australian government is funding a national web portal for university language courses. A two-year grant of $300,000 will permit students to see the full range of language courses on offer from global languages through to Australian indigenous languages. For more see Bernard Lane’s report in The Australian May 7 2014.

Want to learn Swahili?

THE first national web portal for university language courses is expected to lift student numbers and extend the reach of less -taught languages such as Hindi, Greek and Portuguese.

Student demand is often underestimated when the real problems are lack of clear information and awkward degree structures, according to Melbourne University’s John Hajek.

“If you don’t know it’s there, how do you enrol in it? And if there’s no one-stop shop, it’s easy to go around in circles,” he said.

President of the Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities, Professor Hajek is one of four academics who have won a $300,000 twoyear grant from the federal Office for Learning and Teaching.

The idea is to set up the first genuine national languages portal, allowing students to see the full range of courses on offer from global languages through to Australian indigenous languages.

The portal would show which languages are available online, and include anything from semester-long courses to full degree programs.

“It’s often the case that a student may think about doing a language but they don’t know which — well, with this onestop national portal, they’ll be able to look at all their options,” Professor Hajek said.

As well, the project will see a trial consortium of universities — Melbourne, ANU and Macquarie — experiment with collaboration in delivery of lesstaught languages and advanced courses. “By fourth-year level enrolments are relatively small, so it may be more efficient to offer a shared online course,” Professor Hajek said.

The web portal and consortium will also try to simplify the often convoluted process of cross-institutional enrolment, whereby students go further afield to pick up languages not offered at their home university.

The other chief investigators on the project are ANU professors Jane Simpson and Catherine Travis and Macquarie professor Martina Mollering.

The web portal is expected to go live in about 18 months.

 

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