Workshop presentations

Day One

The workshop was introduced by Dr Judith Kearney, Director of Community Partnerships in the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith. The morning session was chaired by Dr Francesco Goglia, Exeter University, UK. Dr Kerry Taylor-Leech, Griffith University opened the workshop by showing a short video-report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) pilot project and giving a brief summary of language policy and language-in-education policy in East Timor since 2002.

Powerpoint 1 Griffith-Lang-in-ed-policy-brief-KTL

This was followed by a keynote presentation by two representatives of the Timor-Leste National Commission for UNESCO (TLNCU): the co-ordinator of the mother tongue based multilingual education pilot project, Ms Francisca Soares and her advisor Dr Karla Smith, SIL International. They explained how the pilot works and which schools, districts and language communities are involved (Powerpoint 2-MTB-MLE-Soares and Powerpoint 3-Materials-Smith). The pilot, scheduled to run for three years, is currently reaching the end of its first year. In addition to providing information about MTB-MLE projects in other parts of the world, the presenters explained the teaching methods being used in the East Timor pilot.

Some of the issues and challenges in their work include:

  • the expectation of credible results in a short time frame for the project (three years)
  • how to ensure the sustainability of the pilot
  • the challenges involved in scaling up the pilot
  • the question of how to deal with children who enter school with no pre-school education
  • the management and delivery of teacher education
  • motivating teachers and bringing about change in teacher attitudes and behaviour
  • the lack of infrastructure and shortage of resources
  • the need for effective advocacy work with parents and families

In the afternoon session, chaired by Dr Estêvão Cabral, Tilburg University, there were three presentations dealing with different aspects of adult and child literacy repertoires and resources. Dr Danielle Boon, Tilburg University, presented data from her study of multilingualism inside and outside adult literacy classes in eight districts of East Timor and described her findings from quantitative and qualitative (case study) research on adult literacy with teachers and learners (Powerpoint 4-Literacy-Boon).Her detailed observations highlight the highly flexible and creative multilingual practices being used to get things done. Prof Sjaak Kroon, Tilburg University, presented his research with Mr Edegar da Conceição Savio on the use of Fataluku and other languages in literacy classes in Lautém (Powerpoint 5- Fataluku-Conceicao-Kroon). His analysis of the local linguistic landscape in Lautém provides detailed evidence of multilingual practices by grassroots language users. Prof John Hajek, University of Melbourne, gave a presentation on developing resources for mother-tongue literacy in which he showed how storybooks in local languages for early readers can be quickly, easily and cheaply produced. 

Day Two

The second day of the workshop was opened by Dr Kay Hartwig, Director of Internationalisation in the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith. In the morning session, chaired by Prof. John Hajek, there were presentations from workshop participants on other research related to language and literacy in East Timor. Dr Francesco Goglia and Dr Susana Afonso of Exeter University, UK informed the participants about their work with East Timorese diasporas in Portugal and the UK; Mr Alan Carneiro, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil, discussed his doctoral research on the reintroduction of Portuguese as a language of formal education from the perspective of East Timorese teachers of Portuguese and undergraduate students who were studying the language. Ms Ilde da Costa Cabral, University of Birmingham, UK told the workshop about her ethnographic research on teachers’ language ideologies and multilingual language practices in primary classrooms in East Timor. Prof Marilyn Martin-Jones, University of Birmingham, and Dr Estêvão Cabral, described their historical work on the FRETILIN adult literacy campaign of 1974/5 (which involved oral history interviews and archival work). They also touched on their earlier research on the multilingual literacy practices of East Timorese who were involved in the Resistance to the Indonesian occupation 1975-1999.

Dr Kerry Taylor-Leech told the workshop about her research on the discourses of official language policy and their congruence with grassroots language attitudes and practice, with a particular focus on language-in-education policy and linguistic landscape. Dr Zane Goebel of La Trobe University talked about his research on language socialisation and language practices in Indonesian community settings (Powerpoint 6-Complicating ideologies_Indonesia-Goebel) and provided some useful suggestions for potential research of this kind in East Timor. Finally, Dr Benjamin Côrte-Real, National University of Timor Lorosa’e, discussed the current situation of the Instituto Nacionál de Linguística and the challenges it faces in its work. Dr Benjamin Côrte-Real provided an update on the current situation of the INL, which has now been absorbed into the national university. As an institution, its primary role has been to modernise and raise the prestige of Official Tetum. The INL is under-resourced and seems to be being positioned primarily as a translation unit for Tetum. The workshop participants expressed hopes of future collaboration with the INL in resource development for the teaching of Tetum and, hopefully, for linguistic research.

Both workshops were highly collegial and there were lively, stimulating discussions of the issues raised by the presenters. In the final session the workshop participants discussed the main themes that had emerged from the workshop and identified a number of possible topics for further investigation.