Review - School of Language Studies

8-9 April 2010

The School of Language Studies was reviewed on 8-9 April 2010.  The Executive Summary of the Review Report and its recommendation can be found below.  The College and School are now considering the recommendations and determining what action to take in response to these.

Executive Summary

The panel reviewing the School of Language Studies considered the submissions by the School, academic staff, students and external stakeholders.  It met with the Head of the School of Language Studies, Dr Peter Brown and many of the staff of the School.  The panel undertook a tour of the School facilities, including its teaching rooms, common areas and interactive learning environments.

The panel also met with undergraduate, graduate coursework and higher degree by research students, and held an information session for students prior to the review.

The embassies of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, Brazil, Portugal, and Mauritius along with a wide range of cultural organisations with which the School has relationships were informed of the Review and invited to make comment.

In its deliberations the panel considered the School within its context in the College of Arts and Social Sciences, its linkages to other areas of the ANU (particularly the languages and linguistics programs of the College of Asia and the Pacific) and its position within the wider framework of the disciplines of Languages and Linguistics in the Australian university sector.

The panel was impressed with the engagement of the Head of School and academic staff with the review and their obvious commitment to and passion for the teaching of languages and linguistics.  Students also attested to generally high levels of satisfaction with their educational experience.  Students of Linguistics particularly valued the range of courses on offer.

However, the School is not at present in a position to aspire to national leadership in all disciplines.  In order to raise the education and research profile of the school with a view to taking its rightful place, the panel makes some significant developmental recommendations in these areas.  These recommendations involve, but are not limited to, issues of staffing.


Recommendation 1.1

It is recommended that in order to fulfil the school's strategic mission two senior academic positions preferably at Level E be made, with each appointee being required to undertake a senior leadership role in the School including, perhaps on rotation, the position of Head of School.

Recommendation 1.2

It is recommended that the School appoint a School Manager, with supervisory responsibility for all general staff in the School, and possessing budget and strategic planning skills and the capacity to build relationships with outreach partners.

Recommendation 1.3

It is further recommended that one of the administrative roles in the School be reconfigured to provide dedicated administrative support for the Head of School. 

Recommendation 1.4

In addition to the senior appointments under 1.1, it is recommended that the School advertise a junior academic appointment at Level B/C.

Recommendation 1.5

In filling the proposed new appointments the School must ensure that the following areas of expertise are covered:

  • Phonetics
  • Linguistics of Australian indigenous languages
  • Language, Literature and Culture (with a strong language-centred research profile).

Recommendation 1.6

It is recommended that the proposed redesign and refurbishment of interactive teaching spaces be completed without further delay and that all language teaching be timetabled in rooms equipped with the necessary equipment for the teaching of languages.

Recommendation 2.1

It is recommended that the School undertake a review of its curriculum with the aim of:

  • Identifying more clearly the learning outcomes of all programs and major sequences;
  • Clarifying the level of language acquisition achieved by students at various levels of study and benchmarking these standards internationally;
  • Developing a more theoretically sophisticated understanding of the nexus between language and culture.

Recommendation 2.2

It is recommended that the model of courses taught with lectures in English and specific language tutorials be developed for a wider range of course and markets for students in the wider university be tapped.

Recommendation 3.1

It is recommended that the Bachelor of Languages be reconfigured as a four-year program, incorporating language study and linguistics and mandating that all students undertake study in a country where the language of their study is spoken.

Recommendation 3.2

It is recommended that the School implement the pedagogical strategy of modularising the constituent parts of language courses; that is, the four macro-skills of language learning – reading, writing, listening, speaking – and admitting students at differing levels for each of these competencies.

Recommendation 3.3

It is recommended that the School develop collaborations in Indigenous language, learning and cultural programs with Charles Darwin University.

Recommendation 3.4

It is recommended that the School undertake an immediate review of its Honours programs addressing the following:

  • there be an option of students' completing an Honours thesis in English;
  • all students completing interdisciplinary theses should undertake a combined Honours program;
  • joint supervision being provided for the non-language expertise required in combined Honours;
  • formal coursework for Honours programs being developed;
  • the development of a national collaborative Honours program with the other Group of Eight Universities.

Recommendation 4.1

It is recommended that the School, in collaboration with CASS External Relations and the College of Asia and the Pacific, develop as a matter of urgency strategies for increasing enrolments in the Master of Applied Linguistics and Master of Translation.

Recommendation 5.1

It is recommended that, in collaboration with CASS External Relations, strategies for increasing HDR numbers be explored as a matter of priority, and that specific target markets be identified.

Recommendation 6.1

It is recommended that the School develop, as a matter of priority, strategies for improving research performance, increasing the number of research active staff and success in external grant applications.

Recommendation 6.2

It is recommended that as part of curriculum review proposed under Recommendation 2.1 the School develop a more explicit and sophisticated approach to the embedding of research in the undergraduate curriculum.

Recommendation 7.1

It is recommended that there be a more systematic approach developed for maintaining relationships with relevant embassies, particularly in relation to the proposal for the Year in Europe and/or South America.

Recommendation 7.2

It is recommended that collaborations with government, particularly in relation to greater emphasis being placed on the upgrading of Language teaching skills in secondary schools, be further pursued.

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