Organised Sessions

Australian Indigenous children’s language/s

Irrespective of the particular language(s) spoken, there is an urgent need to better understand the communicative abilities of Indigenous children in Australia. As Diana Eades (e.g. 1994, 2013) has shown in her work on Aboriginal people in the legal system, the consequences of a lack of understanding around cultural and linguistic differences between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians can be dire. Yet much of what is ‘known’ in Australia about Aboriginal children comes from reports on their poor performance in the national standardised numeracy and literacy assessment, NAPLAN (Osborne & Guenther, 2013) . In recent years increasing research has focussed on Indigenous children’s communicative competence in their first language(s), be it a traditional Aboriginal language, a Kriol variety, mixes thereof, or a variety of Aboriginal English. This session aims to capitalise on the current swell of interest in this area by bringing together researchers who study aspects of Aboriginal children’s acquisition and use of language/s, thereby building on, and adding to, existing understandings of children’s linguistic abilities and practices.

Australian Indigenous Languages in Education

The contemporary Indigenous language ecologies across Australia are diverse, rich and dynamic. One of the challenges of the formal education system is to cater for and harness this complexity to meet teaching and learning goals across the curriculum and address educational equity and inclusion. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers are best-positioned to lead place- and language-informed approaches across a variety of language ecologies.

While the importance of first language(s) education and the value of affirming the language ecologies of communities in the classroom is well established, there are numerous examples of systemic structures that relegate the linguistic, cultural and social resources of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers and students to the periphery. When this occurs, the children’s learning needs are no longer front and centre. Yet there is also a growing body of research bringing to the fore the ways in which educators, researchers and communities challenge marginal positioning.

This organised session brings together projects from different contexts across Australia, to explore themes such as school-based language and literacy socialization and practices, community and classroom language ecologies, strategies for accessing the curriculum, and cultural and linguistic maintenance. This in-person and online session aims to include collaborative endeavours from Indigenous and non-Indigenous teams. Collectively, these projects foreground the strength and importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educators in language-centred and place-informed perspectives within our school systems.

Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism and Multilingualism

In Australia, and around the world, an increasing number of children and adults are becoming bilingual or multilingual. There is a great deal of diversity in bilingual and multilingual speakers in terms of ages, modes, and contexts of language acquisition (and attrition). In addition, some are acquiring typologically similar languages while others are acquiring typologically unrelated languages. As we understand more about these populations, their language abilities, similarities vs. differences across populations (and with their monolingual peers) and often large individual variability, many questions are being raised both theoretical and applied.

This special session aims to bring together the latest research on bilingual and multilingual language development across the life span, including (but not limited to) comprehension, processing, and production using linguistic approaches to further our understanding of the language abilities of these populations and factors that lead to individual variability. Submissions with a focus on bilingual and multilingual children in Australia are especially welcome. Either theoretical or applied research will be considered.

We invite the latest work in (but not limited to) the following areas: simultaneous child/adult bilingualism, child/adult L2 acquisition/processing, child/adult heritage language and the effects bilingualism have on cognition and the brain.

Decolonisation, Inclusion and Collaboration in Linguistics

Scholars have recently begun to consider how the field of linguistics may decolonise its practices to foster inclusion and collaboration. These contributions have in common a call to reflect on and reconsider existing practice in order to: (1) expand epistemologies and methodologies; (2) create opportunities for growth; (3) avoid further damage. In this organised session we seek to continue this reflective process by engaging in discussion of how linguistic research is carried out in a variety of contexts which call for a reconsideration of potentially colonising practice. Sessions are organised around three sessions: the local, the national and the global.

Language Acquisition in the Australian Context

The study of language acquisition considers how children acquire their native language/s, how knowledge of language emerges in infancy and early childhood, and the linguistic milestones that children display during language development (amongst others). In order to address the core research questions of language acquisition we can study the computational component (such as syntax), the sensory-motor component (such as speech perception), or the conceptual-intentional component (such as the meanings of words). In the Australian context different fields of study address interesting research questions about the components of language acquisition through a variety of experimental and theoretical methods and this workshop calls on theoretical, applied, and experimental linguists, speech–language pathologists, neurobiologists of language, cognitive and developmental psychologists, and other researchers to contribute to the workshop. The focus of the workshop is language acquisition but it will take advantage of the whole environmental context in which language occurs. Thus, we are interested in work from a broad range of paradigms that addresses questions concerning the acquisition of language.

Linguistic Landscapes: Languages, Materialities and Identities

This themed session aims to explore how linguistic landscapes might foreground a materialist understanding of languages. Broadly defined as signage displayed in public spaces, linguistic landscapes are viewed as the nexus where identities and ideologies are embodied through languages and material objects (Scollon & Scollon, 2003; Shohamy, 2015). Public signs, including permanent inscriptions and transient written texts, can be purposefully curated to evoke nostalgic emotions and collective imaginations in particular times and spaces (Thurlow, 2019; Woldemariam & Lanza, 2015). However, the meaning potentials of multilingual and multimodal resources employed for sign making may not resonate with the readership of linguistic landscapes, who might read and interpret these texts in various ways (Huebner, 2009). Linguistic landscapes thus raise a new series of questions in relation to how languages are embedded in physical environments and combine with other semiotic resources in meaning making.

From these perspectives, this session brings together five papers to examine linguistic landscapes, redirecting our attention to the material environment where languages situate in, the readership and authorship of publicly displayed texts, and the interaction of languages and other semiotic resources in expressing identities.

Linguistics in the School Curriculum: Improving Student Outcomes

Linguistics in the School Curriculum (SiG) will hold its 2021 annual session exploring, supporting and pursuing ways in which linguistics can improve student outcomes in the F-12 education system. Linguistics informs many areas of the Australian curriculum and this workshop aims to establish productive links between linguists and teaching professionals. In this workshop we encourage submissions which:

  • (a) showcase and critically evaluate how linguistics can contribute to improving student outcomes through, e.g.:
    • • the F-10 National English Curriculum, NAPLAN, National Australian Languages Framework,
    • • the Aboriginal Languages K-10 Syllabus (New South Wales),
    • • The Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiad (OzCLO)
  • (b) examine research findings that can contribute to improved student outcomes.
  • (c) explore areas for integrating linguistics into F-12 education, e.g.:
    • • What kind of linguistic knowledge is most useful for teaching professionals?
    • • How does research on bilingualism support the promotion of Australian Indigenous languages, community languages, world languages within Australian education?
    • • How can second language acquisition research contribute?
    • • How can grammar teaching for English, Australian Indigenous languages, community languages and other world languages inform each other?
    • • How can linguistics be used to develop children’s literacy/oral language etc?
  • (d) explore ideas for on-going collaborative projects.


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