Teaching and Education

Mentoring and knowledge-sharing efforts from across the Centre


CoEDL was committed to offering learning opportunities as widely as possible to a range of academic, professional and community groups. Centre members shared their expertise with classes through university courses, while summer scholarships and research placements similarly gave over 100 university students a taste of the Centre’s work. CoEDL also organised annual Summer Schools, which offered Centre members and the broader linguistic community opportunities to diversify their skills, form new collaborations and engage with transdisciplinary perspectives, and allowed early career researchers to gain experience in teaching and leading education activities. These activities became pathways for research students to work with CoEDL.

Beyond formal research and education settings, CoEDL supported collaboration with and outreach to communities and people interested in the documentation and maintenance of linguistic and cultural heritage. Workshops with communities across the region — like the Pacific Islands Universities Research Network conference workshop discussed below — shared insights on topics such as corpus building, archiving, language revitalisation and maintenance, language resource development and more.

This work brought new audiences in touch with CoEDL efforts, enriched the Centre’s research and encouraged good practice among people studying language sciences and assisting language revitalisation, maintenance and archiving.

Summer Schools

CoEDL’s annual Summer Schools (from 2015 – 2019) were designed to share CoEDL knowledge across the Centre and the wider community through workshops, classes and training sessions. More than 600 participants had the chance to learn from prominent scholars and peers from across the language sciences, acquire skills for applying computational methods to linguistic research and explore tools developed from CoEDL research.

Summer Schools rotated between the Centre’s nodes, showcasing local researchers, maintaining interdisciplinary perspectives and offering courses by international Partner and Associate Investigators. Early career researchers also gained valuable experience organising and delivering workshops. CoEDL provided travel scholarships for more than 40 domestic and international students from 15 countries. In its final year, 10 First Nations participants and one participant from the Solomon Islands received support to attend Summer School.

The a few examples of the intellectual breadth of Summer School content include:

  • Bill Croft (University of New Mexico) delivering a masterclass on an evolutionary approach to describing language change and cultural transmission
  • Sally Akevai Nicholas (a native speaker of Cook Island Maori) teaching a course on Polynesian Languages
  • Trevor Johnston (a native Auslan signer) giving a lecture on ‘Semiotic diversity in sign languages and spoken languages’
  • Leanne Hinton (UC Berkeley) and Lesley Woods (Ngiyampaa PhD student) co-teaching a course on ‘Marrying academic linguistics and community-based linguistics’

While the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled the 2020 instalment, CoEDL concluded its Summer School program in 2021 with a two-day series of Summer Masterclasses following the Australian Linguistic Society’s (ALS) annual conference. The sessions illustrated work that CoEDL had enabled since its inception, including methodological developments, theoretical advances, technology and tools.

“By bringing people together, we hope to have contributed to the sense of community among Australian linguists, while also facilitating connections with others working in fields related to linguistics who have participated in these events,” said CI Catherine Travis, reflecting on the impact of the CoEDL Summer Schools.

Following the success of the 2021 Masterclasses, ALS pledged to carry forward CoEDL’s Summer School model.

Teaching Field Linguistics

CoEDL was instrumental in training new field linguists, whether through consolidating knowledge in archiving guides and publications like Linguistic Fieldwork [1] and other textbooks, or connecting budding researchers with fieldtrip opportunities, or mentoring CoEDL members through the Centre’s many education and outreach initiatives.

One example was the Field Methods in Linguistics course, run by CoEDL members at the Australian National University (ANU). Co-convened in recent years by Director Nick Evans and Postdoc Mae Carroll, the course sees students learn field methods by collaborating with a speaker of a language none of the students have encountered before. Together they document and describe the language’s phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics.

“The majority of languages of the world are small-scale community languages and many of these are severely under-documented, endangered and underrepresented in linguistic literature,” says Mae. “Fieldwork is essential to the task of documenting [these] languages.”

Beyond learning essential skills for documentation, students can make meaningful contributions by compiling their findings into a resource that can be returned to the language community [2 – 7].

In the past, students worked in person with a member of the language community. In 2018, for example, Jeffrey Aniba-Waia joined Nick to co-teach an intensive course on Kala Kawaw Ya, a language of the Western Torres Strait. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 necessitated a shift, with Mae delivering the course online in collaboration with an ANU colleague named Eileen, who speaks Sinaugoro, an Austronesian language of New Guinea.

Collaborating with language consultants online opened new opportunities. In semester one 2021, Haroun Kafi joined Nick, Mae and the students to document the South-Sudanese language Kufo (sometimes Arabised as ‘Kufa’). This collaboration was made possible by a hybrid format, which saw Haroun come to Canberra for some sessions and join online from his home in Shepparton, Victoria for the rest.

The course inspired many students to pursue further research, including Keira Mullan, who began an Honours research project after working with Haroun, Mae and Nick.

“We were learning about fieldwork as we were doing fieldwork, making mistakes and discoveries all at once,” Keira said. “Nick and Mae were fantastic, guiding us through the process while still allowing us to develop our own interests and ideas.”

Research Placements and Summer Scholarships

Throughout CoEDL, Centre members hosted over 100 undergraduate and master’s coursework students during summer and winter terms through research scholarships and internships. These programs trained students, introduced budding language scientists to new perspectives through interdisciplinary projects and provided insight and pathways into graduate research study.

Research placements ran on a model of intensive research immersion for up to eight weeks. Students collaborated with CoEDL members to get new projects up and running, or to assist key research initiatives like the Transcription Acceleration Project (TAP). Scholarships supported students from across Australia and New Zealand to travel to the hosting CoEDL node. Placements were available across many areas of language science, including dictionary development; technology training and computational analysis; maintaining multilingualism in community languages; data analysis and management; historical linguistics and multidisciplinary approaches to understanding the human past; corpus development and more.

CoEDL research placement scholars and interns contributed greatly to the Centre’s work. They came from a range of disciplines and professional backgrounds including linguistics, psychology, computer science, neuroscience and speech pathology. The energy, curiosity and diverse knowledge that they brought to the Centre pushed many CoEDL projects along in productive directions.

Some participants went on to graduate study, including Jamilla Smith, who worked with a team at CoEDL’s Western Sydney University node on a project aiming to improve quality of life for aged-care residents.

“This experience has confirmed my passion for research,” said Jamilla, who decided to follow her undergraduate speech pathology studies with a PhD, inspired by her 2021 – 2022 summer research placement. “Being paid to investigate how we can increase the quality of life of aged-care residents is an incredible job. We are working toward updating policy that will continue to impact older adults long after we have retired.”

PIURN Conference workshop

Four CoEDL researchers visited the University of French Polynesia in Tahiti in October 2018 to attend the 3rd Conference of the Pacific Islands Universities Research Network (PIURN) and deliver a training workshop. The conference, which CoEDL and the Australian National University helped to sponsor, was organised around the theme “Traditional knowledge, academic knowledge and current universities’ research dynamics in the Pacific region”. Director Nick Evans, CIs Janet Fletcher and Nick Thieberger and PhD student Marie-France Duhamel presented in French on the diverse and rich multilingual environment in the Pacific and the region [8].

Following the conference, the group facilitated a two-day workshop on digital and analytical tools to describe and share the languages of Oceania. Participants, including students, teachers and speakers of Oceanic languages, gained hands-on experience working with CoEDL members and the tools they presented and discussed issues around language recording and archiving.

Most of the seven languages of the French Polynesian archipelago are severely endangered, with little transmission to the next generation. While there are few opportunitiesfor people in the Pacific to gain experience in new methods of language work, such workshops and other knowledge-sharing exercises are vital.

Like many other CoEDL workshops with speakers of endangered languages, the workshop aimed to increase the autonomy of the participants in producing and sharing digitally their language material. Another common feature of CoEDL workshops was their ability to lead to new collaborations. In this case, the PIURN Conference workshop led to building Anavevo ('cave of echoes'), a digital oral archive focussing on the languages of French Polynesia.


Further information

Many more Centre activities that afforded Training and Education opportunities are highlighted in the Outreach Connections, which can be explored in map or list form.


Hero image: Attendees participate in a session during CoEDL’s first Summer School in Sydney, 2015. Image: CoEDL.

Image 1: The full group of Summer School 2016 participants gathered at Melbourne University. Image: CoEDL.

Image 2: Nick Evans (L) and Haroun Kafi (R) with students (centre) during the 2021 Field Methods in Linguistics course. Image: CoEDL.

Image 3: Summer Scholars from the 2018 – 2019 program at CoEDL’s Australian National University node. Image: CoEDL.

Image 4: Some of the participants in the PIURN Conference workshop (L – R): Suzie Bearune, Fabrice Wacalie, Jacques Vernaudon, CI Nick Thieberger, Mirose Paia, Stéphanie Rabault, CI Nick Evans, Zehra Gabillon, PhD scholar Marie-France Duhamel and CI Janet Fletcher. Image: CoEDL.


[1] Felicity Meakins, Jennifer Green, and Myfany Turpin. 2018. Understanding linguistic fieldwork. Oxford : Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203701294

[2] Don Daniels (collector), 2017. Wiru Field Methods Course, ANU. Collection WIU1 at catalog.paradisec.org.au [Open Access]. https://dx.doi.org/10.26278/4Q26-9M54

[3] Nicholas Evans (collector), 2018. Kala Kawaw Ya - Linguistics field methods 2018. Collection MWP1 at catalog.paradisec.org.au [Open Access]. https://dx.doi.org/10.26278/5dc9778108cff

[4] Sonja Riesberg (collector), 2018. Motu Field Methods 2018 ANU. Collection MEU1 at catalog.paradisec.org.au [Open Access]. https://dx.doi.org/10.26278/5e00d67b8be35

[5] Matthew J. Carroll (collector), 2019. Field Methods ANU 2019 Ghayavi, Almah Tararia (speaker). Collection BMK1 at catalog.paradisec.org.au [Open Access]. https://dx.doi.org/10.26278/KYXY-M569

[6] Matthew J. Carroll (collector), 2020. Field Methods ANU 2020 Sinaugoro. Collection SNC1 at catalog.paradisec.org.au [Open Access]. http://catalog.paradisec.org.au/collections/SNC1

[7] Matthew Carroll (collector). Field Methods ANU 2021 Kufa. Private PARADISEC collection not available in the open PARADISEC catalogue: http://catalog.paradisec.org.au/collections/KCP1

[8] The University of French Polynesia recorded and compiled all sessions from the 2018 PIURN Conference, which are available to view here.