50 years of Indonesian Language Teaching in Australia: An expression of ideas, community and cultural exchange.   

Paul Thomas

Monash University

Between the years1956 and 1957 Australian universities started to establish Indonesian departments in an atmosphere which reflected both a fascination and   intellectual openness towards a neighbour that the Australian public had only just begun to discover. By the mid 1960s Australia had found itself with a rapidly expanding project in Indonesian language teaching and learning, extending from early primary years to university education. This was something truly unique with no other country then or now attempting to engage with Indonesia in this way. To some extent it reflected a new Australian identity which was developing a growing association with the region.

This workshop is intended as both a celebration and a call for a critique of the 50 years of teaching Indonesian in Australia. The workshop proposes to invite colleagues to contribute their experiences and their views of this history in the context of recent comments that Australians are losing interest in the study of Indonesian language and culture. It is intended that the results of the workshop be incorporated into a paper and panel on the 50 years of Indonesian language teaching to be held at the Indonesian Council Open Conference at Monash University in September. Anyone that may wish to contribute scanned images of past materials, student-Indonesian interaction from different periods of this history is most welcome to contact the presenter in advance. Email: Paul.Thomas@arts.monash.edu.au

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