Category Archives: Australia

Five Things I Do Not Miss About Australia

By   June 28, 2015

Five Things I Do Not Miss About Australia

I’ve been back in the US for 10 days and I have to admit, there are a few things that I don’t miss about Australia. Even though Australia is amazing in so many ways, there are always cons to go with the pros. Future immigrants and students, these are the things that I did not like:

  1. Cost of living / “Australian Tax” – At least minimum wage and salaries in general are high, but paying $20 for a bottle of contact solution or $30 for less than 2 hours of parking – as well as higher prices on all electronics, cosmetics, and clothing that are the same as in America (i.e. made in China) – was incredibly infuriating. Everything seems so cheap to me now in the US, even prices in LA.
  2. Slow and expensive internet – DATA CAPS ARE EVIL!!! I got a whole 50GB for $73 a month. The previous year I got 150GB for $60 a month. In the US, I have unlimited internet that is twice as fast for the same price. In Europe, it’s even cheaper.
  3. Rental inspections – I have never been more insulted than when I learned there would be an inspection in my rental house/apartment every 4 months regardless of how clean I kept the place. Invasion of privacy, anyone?
  4. Current government – Disregard for the environment, lack of marriage equality, horrible treatment of refugees, Islamophobic policies, Tony Abbott, etc. It is truly embarrassing for a country that is known for being so laid-back, friendly, and progressive.
  5. Isolation – Flying to Europe or the eastern US takes around 24 hours and can cost more than $2,000. This is why I had to go two years without seeing my niece and nephew. It really takes a toll on you.

Some of these things will hopefully change in the future, and the Australian dollar is getting weaker which makes prices cheaper for some immigrants. The last one, however, is probably the main reason why I am ok with not living in Australia anymore.

My niece is nearly 4 and my nephew is 2. They stopped swimming this week to look at a pretty butterfly. They repeat French words I teach them. Their giggles and smiles melt my heart. I’ve already missed a lot being overseas the past few years, and Australia is just too far away from them.

Can we talk about how awesome Darwin is?

By   June 22, 2015

My birthday present to myself in May was one last trip in Australia. I used my Qantas points to get a free flight to Darwin and booked a day tour to Kakadu National Park to see Aboriginal rock art at Nourlangie and crocodiles in Yellow Water Billabong.

Darwin itself is a nice tropical destination and most of the attractions are walkable. Be sure to visit in the dry season though (May to September are probably best). The temperature was perfect for me and I am always cold!

Eavesdropping on foreign tourists and guessing which language they are speaking is always fun when travelling. Coming across multilingual signs is an added bonus.


A photo posted by Jennifer Wagner (@ielanguages) on

The day trip to Kakadu was very long and expensive, but worth it. We saw quite a few crocs at Yellow Water.

We ended the trip at Mindil Beach for the beautiful sunset.


A photo posted by Jennifer Wagner (@ielanguages) on

We stayed at The Cav near the bus depot and information centre, and used Darwin Airport Shuttle for transfers to/from the airport. You can see a few more photos on Instagram and I’ve uploaded a video of a crocodile and the Mindil Beach sunset to YouTube.

The next time I come back to Australia, I will definitely visit Darwin again!

Back to North America Soon… But Probably Not Forever

By   May 28, 2015

It doesn’t seem like it’s been nearly 4 years since I left France for Australia, but it has. And now it’s time to say goodbye to Australia, unfortunately. My student visa expires soon and I haven’t been able to find a permanent job (most likely because I do not yet have my PhD “in hand” as almost every job listing specifies). Even though Australia now has a Post-Study Work Visa for recent graduates, I am not eligible since I started my program before November 2011 and there is no alternative option for me. I am slightly bitter about how unfair immigration laws really are and being forced to leave a place I love, but I will continue to apply for jobs in Australia with the hope of returning someday. I am also looking for jobs in North America and Europe, so if you hear of any French or applied linguistics lecturer positions, please let me know.

I’ll be back in Michigan and Virginia for a short time in June to see family, and then I’m off to Europe for a few weeks for the New Zealand Studies Association conference and my annual trip with Michelle. We’ll be exploring Eastern Europe and Iceland, and then I’ll be heading to France and Benelux to visit friends and family. When I return to the US in August, I’ll be able to work full-time on the website since I won’t have a job so expect more authentic language videos and realia to be uploaded then.

If anyone in the Adelaide area needs furniture or household items, I’m selling almost everything I own on Gumtree and Ebay. (I’ll be adding my desktop computer and car soon.) I’ll also be donating some things, such as books and kitchen items, to Salvos if you like free stuff.

I leave Australia June 14, but don’t worry, Charlie is definitely coming to the US with me. He actually arrives before I do! Jetpets will be taking care of him along the way, and he even gets to spend the night in both Sydney and Los Angeles on his way to Detroit.

My handsome little man

My handsome little man, and soon to be world traveler!

Applied Linguistics Associations of Australia & NZ Conference in Adelaide 2015

By   January 15, 2015

The 2015 combined conference of the Applied Linguistics Associations of Australia and New Zealand (ALAA and ALANZ) – together with the Association for Language Testing and Assessment of Australia and New Zealand (ALTAANZ) – will be held November 30 to December 2 in Adelaide, Australia. The Research Centre for Languages and Cultures at the University of South Australia will be hosting the conference, with the theme Learning in a Multilingual World. Abstracts can be submitted until February 28 at this site.

Applied Linguistics Associations of Australia

This conference was not held in 2014 due to the AILA World Congress in Brisbane. The conference in 2013 was held in Wellington, New Zealand, and it will return to New Zealand again in 2016. I was excited to find out that my research centre and university were hosting the conference this year, but I may no longer be in Australia by November since my visa expires in October. Fingers crossed that I find a job soon that keeps me in this part of the world!

Easter Island, Myths and Popular Culture Exhibition in Sydney – October & November 2014

By   September 10, 2014

If you’ll be in Sydney this October or November and you have an interest in Easter Island, then head to the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre for a free exhibition on the representations of Easter Island in popular culture. I am co-curating this exhibition and I will be at the Powerhouse for the soft opening where we will have some hands-on activities for kids (October 11-12), but the official opening is Saturday, October 25 at 10am.

There will be a cabinet dedicated to the Francophone bandes dessinées that mention or are set on Easter Island. I was recently interviewed for my university’s research degrees newsletter about my research on these comic books and how the Rapanui people themselves are represented.

Mr Magellan

The one appearance of Rapanui in Mr Magellan: a souvenir vendor who says two lines

I’m also planning on presenting at the Pacific History Association conference in Taiwan in December if you’d like to hear more about Rapanui in French-language comic books. In any case, hope to see you in Sydney soon!

AILA World Congress 2014: International Applied Linguistics Association Conference

By   August 20, 2014

I was in Brisbane all last week for the AILA 2014 World Congress, the largest conference for applied linguistics in the world. It is held every three years and I had just missed out on the Beijing conference in 2011 by one month when I first started my PhD. I presented my research on stylistic and geographic variation in French textbooks and was pleasantly surprised at how many people were interested in my presentation. The conference was quite large – over 1,600 delegates – and exhausting but definitely worth it. The program was over 200 pages, not including the abstracts, and there were about 25 parallel sessions to choose from. I found all of the plenaries interesting and was overall impressed by how well run everything was. I can’t imagine organising a conference of this size is an easy task.

Opening ceremony of the AILA Olympics

Opening ceremony of the AILA Olympics

You can check out the program and abstracts via the website to see the diversity of presentations and symposia. It can be a bit overwhelming reading through it all – now imagine having to choose only one session among all of them. Tough decisions!

Plenary on language that looks like English but isn't really

Plenary on language that looks like English but isn’t really

I tended to stick to the strands on language teaching, learning and educational technology. I even found myself in a talk that reported on a Māori teaching course, which I wasn’t expecting from the title since it didn’t mention any specific languages. Hearing Māori – and let’s be honest, incredibly adorable New Zealand accents – is always nice!

So happy to find myself in a talk about Māori language

Jocelyn even said a mihi before the presentation and it was beautiful

My favorite presentation was by Tom Cobb since it’s very relevant to my research. He has recently been adopting English-based corpus tools to French, which also helps improve his amazing Compleat Lexical Tutor website.

Top 2,000 words of French account for 92% lexical coverage

Top 2,000 words of French account for 92% lexical coverage (cf only 80% in English)

Even though it’s winter in Australia right now, it was in the 20s C / 70s F in Brisbane. I love Queensland! However, learning about the existence of gigantic burrowing cockroaches at the (free!) Queensland Museum did leave me a little traumatized…

Swimming in winter

Swimming in winter

The next AILA World Congress will be held in August 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! See you in South America, my fellow applied linguists!

The end of my PhD is near, so what’s next?

By   August 13, 2014

I have just finished writing the last chapter of data analysis for my thesis. Now I need to write the conclusion and abstract, update my literature review, and do some final revisions then the printing and binding of four copies. Technically I have until March 2015 to submit, so if I haven’t managed to find a job this (Australian) summer, I’ll at least still have student status for a while longer. You’re probably thinking that I could finish in no time since I don’t have much left to do, but I have about seven jobs right now – more than half are actually volunteer positions – so I can’t exactly work on my thesis every single day. Plus turning my chapters into manuscripts to submit to journals takes a while, but needs to be done sooner rather than later since finding an academic job without having research publications is very difficult.

This may or may not be the same size as my stack of data and thesis copies...

This may or may not be the same size as my stack of data sets and thesis copies… [Photo Credit: gadl via Compfight cc]

I love all of my jobs though and wouldn’t give any of them up without a fight. The most time-consuming right now is teaching three classes this semester: first year French, second year French, and a tutorial on intercultural communication. I am a tiny bit obsessed with finding and creating fun speaking and vocabulary activities for my French students (see exhibit A: my Teaching French at Uni board on Pinterest).

I’m in Brisbane this week for the 1,600 delegate-strong AILA World Congress (the most important applied linguistics conference in the world!) and then I’m off to Sydney in October for the Easter Island exhibition that I’m co-curating as well as Taiwan in December to present at the Pacific History Association conference.

I’m also an assistant editor of the Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies which publishes two issues a year and has an annual conference in Europe, for which I’m an organiser, as part of the New Zealand Studies Association. (We’ll be in Vienna in July 2015, btw.) Add to those being the student representative for PhD students in my School (I get to complain on behalf of all of the students! I love complaining!), a research assistant, and webmaster of five websites, and hopefully you will understand why I have very little free time these days.

My current student visa expires in October 2015 and I’m still a little unclear as to whether the Department of Immigration changes the expiration date if your degree is conferred before your candidature is up. (It seems that international undergrads who finish their degrees early only have 28 days before they must leave the country.) I’m crossing my fingers that a visa-sponsoring academic job in Australia or New Zealand is available for next year but I’m also trying to prepare for the worst, i.e. packing up everything and moving across the ocean at my own expense for the third time in my life.

Plan B is submitting an expression of interest to obtain a resident visa for New Zealand since university lecturer is currently on the Long Term Skill Shortage List. Plan C is putting my stuff in storage, having friends look after Charlie and basically hanging out in Honolulu or LA until I can find a permanent way back to this part of the world. Just as one language will never be enough for me, one nationality and one passport will never be enough either.

I’ll post a summary of my time at AILA next week, but in the meantime I’m tweeting about the presentations and plenaries I’m attending and you can also check out the hashtag #AILA2014.

Australian & New Zealand Universities that offer French

By   June 29, 2013

Australian and New Zealand Universities that Offer French

For Francophiles based in the South Pacific region, 20 out of the 39 universities in Australia and 6 out of the 8  universities in New Zealand currently offer French:


  1. Australian National University
  2. Edith Cowan University
  3. Flinders University
  4. James Cook University
  5. La Trobe University
  6. Macquarie University
  7. Monash University
  8. RMIT University
  9. University of Adelaide
  10. University of Melbourne
  11. University of New England
  12. University of New South Wales
  13. University of Newcastle
  14. University of Queensland
  15. University of South Australia
  16. University of Sydney
  17. University of Technology, Sydney
  18. University of Tasmania
  19. University of Western Australia
  20. University of Wollongong

New Zealand

  1. Massey University
  2. University of Auckland
  3. University of Canterbury
  4. University of Otago
  5. University of Waikato
  6. Victoria University of Wellington

If small island living is your thing, then the University of the South Pacific also offers courses in French. The main campus is in Suva, Fiji, but there are campuses on eleven other island nations.

France in the South Pacific

And of course Université de la Nouvelle-Calédonie and Université de la Polynésie Française offer courses and degrees in French since these islands are collectivités of France and use French as an official language.

Let me know if I’ve missed a university.

So Much for the Asian Century: Loss of Language Programs at Australian Universities

By   June 10, 2013

The University of Canberra and Curtin University both recently announced that they would be cutting their language programs. At Canberra, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish will disappear while at Curtin, Japanese, Mandarin and a major in Asian Studies may be abandoned. These cuts are very unfortunate since it leaves these universities with no language classes or majors at all. It is also surprising considering the government’s push for a focus on Asian cultures and languages. Indonesian programs have also been closing in Australia, though luckily the programs at La Trobe and University of New South Wales have been saved (for now). The University of Western Sydney is keeping their Chinese and Japanese programs, but doing away with Arabic, Italian and Spanish.

Low enrollment is always the excuse for cutting programs, and universities claim that students can just take the classes at neighboring institutions and that it will actually strengthen those programs. Brisbane Universities Languages Alliance exists for this purpose and students enrolled at any of the three universities in Brisbane can take language classes at another and have the credits count toward their degree. The University of Canberra suggests that students simply take classes cross-institutionally at ANU, while students of Curtin can take language classes at the University of Western Australia. However, this rarely actually happens as David Hill points out and “it is a myth the closure of a language department at one university strengthens those of rivals.” It is much more likely that students will just stop taking language classes altogether. Trying to attend language classes at a different university (which most likely aren’t even required since no Australian university requires a foreign language for a BA) is too much of a hassle when factoring in the time for the commute and conflicting timetables among universities. Even students at my university who are based at the city campuses are less likely to travel 20-30 minutes to the humanities campus to take a foreign language.Open-Universities-Australia-OUA_large

Even though online class enrollments have been increasing, very few Australian universities offer language classes online. The University of New England is “the only [university] in Australia to offer a full programme of French by distance education.” My university offers first year Italian as an online course through Open Universities Australia, but you cannot obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Italian or any other language from OU. Perhaps if Australian universities invested in online education, enrollments would increase in certain subjects? With so many rural students and working students, I’m always surprised that distance education is not more of a priority in Australia.

Australian universities will be hit hard with a $2.8 billion cut next year in the most ridiculous decision ever made on education funding as the money will be used to pay for K-12 school reforms instead. Australian universities could save a lot of money by decreasing the astronomical pay of vice chancellors and putting their money towards academics instead of rugby. VCs should really be paid the same amount as casual staff so they know what it’s like to be overworked and underpaid rather than the opposite. Luckily most Australian universities do not have any involvement in sports teams so academics tends to be the focus, yet most of the money still goes to a few at the top rather than the teaching and research staff who do the most work for the university. Cutting language programs should be a last resort since universities are supposed to provide students with an “international and intercultural educational experience” but I suppose we can do that in English since all seven billion humans speak English natively and belong to the same Anglophone culture, right?

South Australia Travel Videos in French

By   June 1, 2013

Want to see how beautiful South Australia is and learn some French at the same time? The French-language travel site has a few videos of South Australia, including Adelaide, Flinders Ranges and Kangaroo Island. Here’s the one on Adelaide:

South Australia is also called Australie Méridionale but that’s much harder to pronounce, so let’s just stick to Australie du Sud. You’ll notice that most Australian animals have very similar names in French. I’m sure you’ll have no problem figuring out what un kangouru, un koala, or un wallaby are. However, un ornithorynque might be a bit harder (it’s a platypus), but it is really fun to say!