Global Citizenship and the importance of multilingual skills

The 2021 Japanese Studies Association of Australia Conference includes a roundtable on “Advocating Language: Global Citizenship and the importance of multilingual skills”. The panel includes A/Professor Beatrice Trefalt, JSAA President, Monash; Ambassador of Japan, Yamagami Shingo; Professor Michael Wesley, Deputy Vice Chancellor International, University of Melbourne; Professor Keijiro Suga, Meiji University, Japan; Professor Melissa Crouch, Law Faculty, University of New South Wales, ASAA Vice President; and Chair Associate Professor Carol Hayes, ANU.

The roundtable is based on the idea that our collective work aims to produce independent, proactive, and critical language users who gain essential linguistic, cultural, and intellectual skills during their studies, and use those skills to be effective communicators in the community, in business and in government.

Graduate outcomes across Australia increasingly claim we are educating global citizens, creating graduates with flexible thinking and intercultural skills that many see as the backbone of future careers and life in a global society. It seems that current priorities (governmental and institutional) potentially create a tension between this focus on global engagement and an increasingly instrumental monolingual/monocultural focus on shorter term domestic employability skills.

Against this background, the focus of this Roundtable is on the real, in some cases existential, challenges now facing language education and area studies research in the tertiary sector. Its aim is to explore how we can better advocate the need for, and value of, such critical language users – and hence the value of well-focused and effective language programmes.

Roundtable speakers will not just to define the problem, but rather consider what we can do about it.  They will share their own personal experiences and perspectives on the importance and impact of Japanese (and other) language education in universities and beyond in the workplace, as well as their thoughts on key graduate outcomes in our increasingly global world. Finally, we will explore how best we can speak with a united voice to better promote the vital importance of language study in the tertiary sector.

A recording of this session will be available shortly