Access granted: Modern languages and issues of accessibility at university – a case study from Australia

  • 1 European Languages and Studies (Italian Studies), 35 Stirling Highway, The University of Western Australia, Crawley 6009, Western Australia
Joshua Brown
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  • Josh Brown is Honorary Research Fellow in Italian Studies at The University of Western Australia and Postdoctoral Fellow in Romance Linguistics at Stockholm University. His research interests cover the linguistic history of Italy, particularly northern vernaculars in the middle ages, as well as sociolinguistics of contemporary Italy. Recently his attention has turned to patterns of language enrolment in Australian universities, and he is working on several projects around this theme with Marinella Caruso.
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and Marinella Caruso
  • Australia
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  • Marinella Caruso is Lecturer in Italian Studies at The University of Western Australia. She has published on aspects of second language acquisition, Italian as a migrant language, language policies, and teaching innovation. She is the author of Italian language attrition in Australia: The verb system (Milan: Franco Angeli, 2010).
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Abstract

Discussion about how to monitor and increase participation in languages study is gaining relevance in the UK, the US and Australia across various sectors, but particularly in higher education. In recent times levels of enrolment in modern languages at universities around the world have been described in terms of ‘crisis’ or even ‘permanent crisis’. In Australia, however, the introduction of a new course structure at the University of Western Australia, which established a three-year general Bachelor degree followed by professional degrees, has resulted in unprecedented levels of language enrolments. Using data from this university as a case in point, we provide substantial evidence to argue that language enrolments are directly related to overlooked issues of degree structure and flexibility, rather than to other factors.

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Language Learning in Higher Education, the journal of the European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education, deals with the most relevant aspects of language acquisition at university. It publishes contributions presenting the outcomes of research on language teaching, blended learning and autonomous learning, and language assessment, as well as aspects of professional development, quality assurance and university language policy.

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