Welcome from the
Head of School

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the School of Languages and Linguistics.

It has been said that “what languages make you do is perform the study of otherness” (Joseph Lo Bianco), and in this way gain insights into cultures and people’s lives which it is impossible to gain in any other way. Linguists have talked about this in terms of “the genius” of each language – its distinctive character, which allows its speakers to say easily that which it might be longer and more difficult to say in other languages.

Our School provides an internationally recognised hub for teaching and research in  modern European languages and cultures and in Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, English as a Second Language and Language Testing. Our European focus is with the most widely spoken languages of French, Italian, Spanish, German, and Russian, which between them are spoken by almost one billion native speakers, and many more non-native speakers. The School has a program in European Studies, and our focus on Spanish includes an interest in Latin American Studies.

The School hosts the Melbourne node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, the Language Testing Research Centre and two research units: the Research Unit for Indigenous Language and the Research Unit for Multilingualism and Cross-Cultural Communication.

Our research expertise includes areas as diverse as Australian English, cinema studies, popular culture, food studies, pragmatics and discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, Applied Linguistics, language education, European and Latin-American literatures, travel writing, first and second language acquisition, gender and sexuality studies, gesture and sign language, health communication, language and identity, language and technology, language documentation and description, language and autism, memory studies, Indigenous languages of Australia, second language testing and assessment, second language writing, speech perception and production, psycholinguistics, translation and cultural mediation. You can read about some of our research stories on our website and in tweets from @indiglang and @CoEDLang.

Knowledge of European languages and cultures opens up career opportunities in innumerable areas. As Australia's largest commercial partner, the European Union and its member states continue to play a key role not only in trade but also in military, technological, scientific, diplomatic, and cultural exchanges. Our languages are also of crucial importance in other rapidly growing, resource-rich regions such as Latin America and North Asia.

Understanding how Language, any language, works is essential not only in order to learn a language, but also in order to understand how languages are born, how they change and grow, and how and why some are abandoned and die. From writing dictionaries and describing the inner mechanisms of grammars of different languages, to getting the big picture of language use in specific societies (including Australian Indigenous peoples), to understanding best practice in language teaching and assessment, and making sense of language regulation and policy-making, the fields of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics can help you understand what human language is and how it works.

You can find the School in the iconic Babel Building (Building 139) at the heart of the Parkville campus. After years of being used for other purposes, Babel reverted in 2010 to its original function as languages hub at the University of Melbourne. In its rich history, the School and its constituent departments have been home to some of the most prestigious and internationally renowned language scholars in Australia - from Alan R. Chisholm (French, 1888-1981) to Michael G. Clyne (Sociolinguistics,1939-2010).

The School of Languages and Linguistics works closely with the Asia Institute and all the Schools in the Faculty of Arts in its advocacy for all language-related disciplines. The School engages actively with other language centres and agencies in Melbourne and nationwide. Its many international links include exchange and study abroad programs as well as research networking and collaborative research projects.

Whether you are a current or prospective student, a language researcher based in Australia or overseas, or a potential partner, I warmly invite you to join and explore the School. I trust that the information contained in these pages will provide you with useful and specific information on the School's activities in teaching, research and engagement, and also on its staff and internal organisation. On behalf of my colleagues, welcome, bienvenue, Willkommen, benvenuti, Добро пожаловать, bienvenidos to the School and enjoy your time with us.

Professor Lesley Stirling FAHA

Head of School