Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has announced that the Siamese language (now more commonly known as Thai) is to reintroduced into the school curriculum in selected schools.
Muhyiddin, speaking at a “Meet the People” session at Wat Thep Chumnum in Naka, said that children of Thai descent will be able to learn their mother tongue in areas where there is a large Malaysian Thai population.
The language was taught at Sekolah Kebangsaan in Naka from 1956 and was phased out in the 1980s, when the five language teachers retired. No teachers were appointed to replace them.
Muhyiddin hopes that the move will preserve the language in the community. The Education Minister intends to instruct his officers to identify schools in regions such as Kedah and Perlis and provide teachers fluent in the language. He also announced distribution of funds for Malaysian Thai clubs and societies, and small community projects, as well as the language school funding.
Two students from New Zealand have won NZIIU Overseas Exchange Scholarship programs.
Anthony Pyers, from Nelson College, Nelson, and Jake Henderson, from Southland Boys’ High School, Invercargill, both won scholarships through Language Perfect, an online language learning resource which offers prizes for points accumulated practising language skills.
Both students had previously won the Gold Award in the competition and as such, were eligible for the prize draw to win the Overseas Exchange Scholarship in the Language Perfect World Championships. Anthony and Jake will both be studying in Japan next year.
Yaygirr, an aboriginal language previously considered extinct, has been documented in a new dictionary and grammar guide which elders hope will revive the language.
The Muurrbay Aboriginal Language Centre in New South Wales has been working with Yaegl elders for six years, documenting and researching the language. The book includes a comprehensive listing of almost 100o words with recommended spelling and phonetic assistance, as well as a guide to the grammar.
Yaegl man and TAFE teacher David Prosser would like to see language classes at the North Coast TAFE Maclean campus, and develop students into teachers so the language is passed on and continues.
Listen to Yaygirr here.
A community in Queensland has set up an Indigenous LOTE (Languages Other Than English) learning program in order to preserve their language.
Citizens of the Aboriginal community of Woorabinda, inland of Rockhampton, are using technology to keep the language of Ghungalu alive. Only six Australians can speak the language fluently. The use of computer programs means that students can click on a word and hear the pronunciation, much like the technology Google Translate uses.
Chairman of the program, Shemmie Leisha, says that technology causes the language to evolve.
“We didn’t have mobile phones back in the day so a mobile phone to us would be a stick so ‘bunga’ is stick and ‘tudinar’ means to speak so we call a mobile phone today ‘bunga tudinar’. Our language is going to be starting to evolve with the progress of society.”
Source: ABC News
Critics have ridiculed Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott’s vision of preparing the next generation of Australians for the international job market.
Under a Coalition Government, all pre school children would study another language, and targets would be set for 40% of Year 12 students to study a second language. Currently the percentage is 12%.
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has reminded voters that in 2002, Abbott was part of the Howard Government, which axed a successful foreign language program that had doubled the number of students studying Asian languages.
Professor Joe Lo Bianco, from Melbourne University, and formerly the Director of the National Languages and Literacy Institute of Australia, said
“We need a wide range of languages taught in Australia within a sensible national language policy that addresses Indigenous, Asian, European and World languages.”
He added that any language plan devised by a political party should be treated with suspicion.
“We have had so many of them, few consistently implemented and even fewer properly conceived,” he said.
The Coalition’s costing estimate for this plan is to be revealed before the next election.
A community in New South Wales is hoping to revive the local Aboriginal language. Menindee Central School, situated in the Kinchega National Park, is offering an 18 month course in Paakantji aimed at adults. The school has taught the language for four years. The main aim of the program is to get it accredited, so that graduate students can teach others and keep the language alive.
New research conducted at the Aix-Marseille University in France shows that baboons have the ability to identify words. By using different combinations of four letters, the primates are showing signs of being able to recognise which combinations of letters are real words and which aren’t.
They are “actually reading words much like we identify any kind of visual object, like we identify chairs and tables,” says the study’s lead research author Jonathan Grainger.
A testing area was installed into the baboon’s play area, with four touch screen computers. A mixture of real words and nonsense words were displayed on the screen, and the baboons had to touch either a green oval signs on the screen for the real words, or a blue cross to signal the nonsense words. The baboons were free to choose when they used the computers and for how long, but were given treats when they correctly identified the real words. The study concluded that the baboons identified the correct words three times out of four.
The researchers now believe that the ability to recognise words is related to object identification rather than spoken language skills.
Source: Science Journal
Maori TV are to re-launch a dedicated 100% te reo Maori channel, which is called Te Reo. From Monday 16 April, the channel’s weekday broadcast hours will be begin at 4.30pm, rather than 7pm, as it is at the moment. Te Reo’s weekend broadcast schedule will run from 7.00pm to 11.00pm.
The channel will primarily contain programming for children.
Korero Mai was the main language teaching programme to be aired on Maori TV, but the channel will be launching a new live daily Maori language show.
Te Reo is available only on digital and can be accessed via Freeview Satellite channel 24 and SKY channel 59.
A 15 year old from Glasgow has won a trip to Beijing in a Mandarin competition.
Ellie Koepplinger, who began learning Mandarin a year and a half ago, impressed judges in the Beginners category of the British Council Speaking Competition, held at the British Museum.
“It’s a beautiful language that’s full of cultural references and stories – there’s a history to every word and phrase. The way the characters are formulated is also fascinating. I want to become an international politician when I’m older and that means you will have to interact with China and the Chinese. The more people that learn Chinese the better-connected and richer Britain will be in the future. China is going to be a superpower and if we can speak their language it’s going to help us massively, so I think it’s great that the British Council is encouraging people to speak it,” she said.
Ellie will join winners of the other language ability categories on a trip to the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.
One of the things which holds us back when practising a new language is making mistakes. We’ve all done it! Everyone makes mistakes when they’re learning, and (less often) even when they are fluent. The most notorious example is mixing up the Spanish word for “embarrassing” and saying “estoy embarazada” (I’m pregnant!) instead of “estoy avergonzada.”
My most cringe-worthy story is from when I was on holiday in Venice, Italy. I needed to send some postcards so asked the cutest guy I could find “Dov’è l’ufficio postale più vicino?” (Where is the nearest post office?) He raised his eyebrows and pointed behind me! Even though I’d made sure I had the phrase and even the pronunciation correct, I was standing in front of the post office!
The important things to note are that:
- Each mistake is a learning process. Often, you can remember words because of a mistake you’ve made and the subsequent correction that your audience has given you.
- People are very likely to understand and forgive you for a mistake, as long as you try!
- Laughter is a universal language. If you make a huge mistake, at least the person talking to you will have a great story to tell their friends!
What’s the most embarrassing situation you’ve found yourself in when speaking another language?