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Representing language education in Australian universities: An analysis of press reporting (2007–2016)

Shannon Mason

Shannon Mason is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Nagasaki University. After teaching languages in Australian schools for more than 10 years, she now teaches pre-service and in-service language teachers in Japan. Her research interests include language teacher attrition, language education programs, and the representation of educational issues in the media.

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and John Hajek

John Hajek is Professor of Italian Studies and Director of the Research Unit for Multilingualism and Cross-cultural Communication (RUMACCC) at the University of Melbourne. He was also founding President of the Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities (LCNAU) established to support teaching and research in languages in Australia’s tertiary sector. He has a broad range of research interests and has published widely, including on language education across all sectors in Australia.

Abstract

Educational issues are a regular feature in mainstream media, and the ways in which particular issues are represented can influence public perceptions of the various discipline areas and, in turn, policy decisions that affect them. While the research literature includes media coverage analyses of a wide range of educational disciplines and sectors, missing is an understanding of the media representations of language education in the tertiary setting, despite languages being seen as a key pathway to generalised national multilingualism, social harmony, and economic prosperity. The authors address this gap using Australia as a case study, a country that has seen considerable policy and media attention to language education in general over many years. A content analysis of print newspaper coverage from 2007–2016 was conducted, revealing that the coverage of the discipline area at the tertiary level is extremely limited, is generally superficial in depth, narrow in scope, and negative in tone. This representation perpetuates the already precarious position of language education in Australian universities, and there is little support for a more positive and visible public agenda.

About the authors

Shannon Mason

Shannon Mason is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Nagasaki University. After teaching languages in Australian schools for more than 10 years, she now teaches pre-service and in-service language teachers in Japan. Her research interests include language teacher attrition, language education programs, and the representation of educational issues in the media.

John Hajek

John Hajek is Professor of Italian Studies and Director of the Research Unit for Multilingualism and Cross-cultural Communication (RUMACCC) at the University of Melbourne. He was also founding President of the Languages and Cultures Network for Australian Universities (LCNAU) established to support teaching and research in languages in Australia’s tertiary sector. He has a broad range of research interests and has published widely, including on language education across all sectors in Australia.

Appendix

Article codes

CodeHeadlineYearPublicationFirst author
1Landmark Indonesian language course lost2012AustralianB. Lane
2In the Asian century, it’s time to learn an Asian language2012Canberra TimesL. Singh
3We need to talk about Hindi2012AustralianJ. Ferrari
4Don’t let languages languish2007AustralianM. Clyne
5Too few keen to speak in tongues2008AustralianJ. Rowbotham
6Learning a new tongue tied to funding2012AustralianB. Lane
7Language programs School starters set up to fail the 2025 Asia literacy target2013Sydney Morning HeraldJ. Garnaut
8In simple everyday language, unis get it2014Sydney Morning HeraldJ. Donald
9Languages staff, students fear for school in ANU ‘restructure’2016AustralianJ. Ross
10Language studies plan backed despite high cost:2012AgeB. Preiss
11Cranbourne school’s decision to teach Hindi vindicated: ‘The students enjoy saying namaste to me each morning’2012AgeJ. Topsfield
12Multicultural but still monolingual2007Australian Financial ReviewL. Slattery
13Dumping Korean at school ‘blunder’2012Newcastle HeraldB. Lane
14No ifs or buts, just more Rudds please2008AgeK. Yeoh
15Mind your language2012AgeT. Lindsey
16Push to boost China studies in Canberra2014Canberra TimesH. Belot
17Dire state of Indonesian studies reflects a ‘reality gap’ LANGUAGES – ASIA WHITE PAPER –2012AustralianP. Alford
18Language ignorance holds us back: major2007Canberra TimesE. Macdonald
19All that buzz on studying abroad2014AustralianB. Lane
20Contrarian calls for shift in focus from early language programs2013AustralianB. Lane
21Talking up the place next door2012AgeB. Preiss
22Asian language focus2009Courier MailM. Wenham
23Language departments risk losing their essence2010AustralianB. Lane
24Foreign concepts2007Courier MailT. Livingstone
25Parents vocal on language teaching2007AgeB. Smith
26It’s all Greek to the kids; STUDY2008AgeF. Tomazin
27Languages undervalued; Cover story2007Illawarra MercuryK. McInerney
28Language learning ‘in crisis’; School2007AgeD. Ryan
29Top unis to tackle languages crisis2007AustralianM. Rout
30A blinkered approach to languages2007AustralianL. Slattery
31Schools need to focus less on China’s languages and more on its successes2007AgeC. Bantick
32Lost in translation: language crisis targeted; Universities want national push2007AgeF. Tomazin
33Encouraging signs on the Asian front2009AustralianD. Hill
34Schools set Asian lingo challenge2009AgeJ. Gordon
35An investment that speaks for itself2009AustralianJ. Lo Bianco
36Lost in language wasteland2010AustralianG. Groot
37Four-year-olds ‘need extra language’2008AdvertiserL. Hood
38RUSH TO GONSKI SENDS WRONG MESSAGE IN THIS ASIAN CENTURY2013AustralianD. Shanahan
39Future depends on Asian languages2009AustralianG. Healy
40Arabic is ANU’s fastest growing language school2008AustralianH. Bennett
41Lost in translation means the same in any language2008Ageunknown
42Uni axes foreign languages for English2009AustralianR. Callick
43Learn new language and score good job2010Sunshine Coast DailyB. Hoffman
44Language cuts under fire2012SMHH. McDonald
45University cuts could see loss of academics2015Canberra TimesT. McIlroy
46Uni languages blow2009Maribyrnong LeaderB. Ryan
47How ‘user pays’ has tied our tongues2008AustralianT. Mehigan
48Minding our language2008AgeT. Hyland
49Survey on language academics springs a surprise2011AustralianB. Lane
50Teacher blow to foreign language bid2012West AustralianB. Hiatt
51Slip of the tongues at schools2009West AustralianT. Fox
52Carr urges Indonesian study – ELECTION 2013 –2013AustralianM. Rout
53All talk and too little diction2012Canberra Timesunknown
54No quick fix in anyone’s language2011AgeJ. Lo Bianco
55Student still in thrall to language ‘bug’2012AgeB. Preiss
56NO ASIA-LITERACY IN WEASEL WORDS2013AustralianG. Sheridan
57Education system given a fail: Henry urges more language study2012AgeP. Martin

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Published Online: 2019-07-18
Published in Print: 2019-07-26

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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