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College of Indigenous Futures, Arts & Society

Languages at Charles Darwin University

Header image for the Language page

Charles Darwin University offers a range of languages for our students. You can choose from Indonesian, Chinese, Modern Greek and the Australian Indigenous languages of Yolŋu Matha, Arrernte, and Bininj Kunwok.

You can study languages with us, whether you are complete beginners, background speakers, or have studied the language at high school. Our academic staff will assist you with working out the most suitable level for your needs.

All our languages are offered online and through face-to-face classes for those based in Darwin. The online learning mode is convenient and effective for those who wish to study off-campus.

  • Travel and study overseas or in Aboriginal Australia

    A knowledge of languages other than English equips you to travel and experience other cultures in a more profound way. As part of your studies, you will also have opportunities to travel and learn languages through In-Country Placement programs, study tours and language intensive studies. Learning a language through ‘in-country’ immersion is an enjoyable way to learn a language and can be a great way to learn faster by providing you with opportunities for practice beyond the classroom.

    Develop critical thinking and analysis

    Studying a language opens up new neural pathways and hones your critical thinking and analytical skills by gaining an insight into a new language. It makes you a more effective thinker by appreciating difference and ways of working together to achieve positive outcomes with those who may come from a different linguistic background.

    Cross-cultural insights and skills

    Studying a language at CDU enhances your understanding of different cultures and ways of working, equipping you with the skills you need to work in culturally diverse workplaces. We place a strong emphasis on improving a student’s capacity to communicate on a practical level and to develop an understanding of the relevant socio-cultural context of the language you are learning. You will emerge with practical skills not only in language but also in how to work with culturally diverse communities.

  • Studying another language adds value to your university studies. Being multilingual enhances your professional skills and can make you a more effective leader or team member.

    A knowledge of languages also enables you to work in a diverse range of fields not only in Australia but also overseas. Our students have gone on to work in government, industry and the community sector. They can be found working as research and policy professionals, community- and international development practitioners, interpreters and translators, in the medical and legal professions, teachers, and tourism operators. 

  • You can undertake a major in most of the languages that we offer, except Arrernte and Bininj Kunwok which are currently available only as special electives. 

    A major in a language requires the successful completion of 60 credit points (six units). Studying a language as a major is highly recommended in order to develop your fluency in the language.

    From 2020, all languages are part of the course Bachelor of Arts (course code: WARTS2). Students may also elect to study a language through the Diploma of Arts (course code: YARTS1). To apply for admission, you must do so through the South Australian Tertiary Admission Centre (SATAC), typically for Semester 1 commencement.

    If you want to do more than one language in your course, please check first with your course coordinator as to how your preferences can be accommodated. In most instances, you can only do one language per semester as languages are delivered in one single unit, with students then divided into separate language groups in each unit. It is important that you map your study plan with your course coordinator.

    All languages are now delivered through a centralised unit coding system beginning with ‘IAS’.

    Language units are offered in this approximate schedule:

    Unit code and name

    IAS161
    Languages Studies 1

    IAS162 Languages Studies 2

    IAS261 Languages Studies 3

    IAS262 Languages Studies 4

    IAS362
    Advances Language Studies

    IAS362 Advances Language Studies

    IAS403
    Independent Study

    IAS406
    Language Translation and Protocols

    IAS404

    In-Country Placement

    Delivery and student level

    Sem 1
    1st year

    Sem 2

    1st year

    Sem 1
    2nd year

    Sem 2
    2nd year

    Sem 1

    3rd year

    Sem 2

    3rd year

    Sem 1 and 2 2nd or 3rd year

    Sem 1 and 2 2nd or 3rd year

    Depends on each language

Language Studies at CDU

  • Indonesian (sometimes referred to as Bahasa Indonesia) is the national language of Indonesia. Indonesia is a vibrant and diverse country and the most populous in Southeast Asia. 

    Indonesian developed from Malay language, which today is a lingua franca found in Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Southern Philippines and Southern Thailand, representing more than 300 million people.

    Indonesia is a significant power in the region and a country of importance to Australia. Indonesia’s economy is expected to outstrip that of the United Kingdom and Germany by 2030 and predicted to become the fourth largest globally by the middle of the 21st century. Indonesia and Australia enjoy a close relationship. The two countries in 2020 signed a trade agreement to bring them closer together economically. In this context, a knowledge of Indonesian is highly regarded in the government, community and private sector.

    CDU provides a major in Indonesian language and also offers units in Indonesian politics and society as part of your Bachelor of Arts, as well as opportunities for in-country study and postgraduate research.

    Indonesian Language Study Plan

     

    Semester 1

    Unit Name

    Semester 2

    Unit Name

    Year 1

    IAS161

    Indonesian Language 1

    IAS162

    Indonesian Language 2

    Year 2

    IAS261

    Indonesian Language 3

    IAS262

    Indonesian Language 4

    Year 3

    IAS362

    Indonesian Language 5

    IAS362

    Indonesian Language 6

    Language projects of your choice

    For those who have completed a language major or by negotiation (taking into account your proficiency and nature of the project to be undertaken), you can elect to study further advanced units in languages by enrolling in one of the following:

    IAS403 Independent Study

    IAS406 Language translation and protocols

    These units usually allow you to undertake special projects or negotiated language study, supervised by a lecturer in that language area.

    Depending on the language, projects may include research and reporting on topics of interest to you or which relate to your professional life. Enrolment in advanced studies units require special permission from the lecturer supervising your project and the unit coordinator.

    For more information on Indonesian language study, please make contact with:
    Dr Nathan Franklin
    Nathan.Franklin@cdu.edu.au

  • Students posing in front of a mountian in China

    Chinese (Mandarin) is the official language of China, the world most populous country and the world’s second largest economy. Chinese is an important international language with extensive educational programs and business networks around the world. The language is also spoken today by the Chinese diaspora throughout the world.

    The Chinese language program at CDU offers you the opportunity to master the language in a most efficient way by providing a thorough grounding in the language and an overview of how the language is structured.

    We initially lay a solid foundation of Chinese language skills. Then, after completing one and half years of study (equivalent to three semesters), students will be expected to be able to take part in the Chinese government HSK Test III (Chinese Proficiency Test) and you can obtain scholarship opportunities to study in universities in China.

    You will discover enjoyable and efficient approaches of learning the Chinese language with us at CDU.

    Chinese Language Study Plan

     

    Semester 1

    Unit name

    Semester 2

    Unit name

    Year 1

    IAS161

    Chinese Language 1

    IAS162

    Chinese Language 2

    Year 2

    IAS261

    Chinese Language 3

    IAS262

    Chinese Language 4

    Year 3

    IAS362

    Chinese Language 5

    IAS362

    Chinese Language 6

    Language projects of your choice

    For those who have completed a language major or by negotiation (taking into account your proficiency and nature of the project to be undertaken), you can elect to study further advanced units in languages by enrolling in one of the following:

    • IAS403 Independent Study
    • IAS406 Language translation and protocols

    These units usually allow you to undertake special projects or negotiated language study, supervised by a lecturer in that language area.

    Depending on the language, projects may include research and reporting on topics of interest to you or which relate to your professional life. Enrolment in advanced studies units require special permission from the lecturer supervising your project and the unit coordinator.

    For more information on Chinese language study, please make contact with:
    Amy Yu-Vatskalis
    Amy.Yu@cdu.edu.au

  • Student group in Greece

    Greek language reflects the origin of Western Civilisation in identity, philosophy, politics, religion, science, mathematics, and education more broadly. It remains an important language in the European Community, as well as in the well-established Greek diaspora communities across Australia, UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Germany, Russia, the Netherlands, and other countries.

    Modern Greek Language Study Plan

     

    Semester 1

    Unit name

    Semester 2

    Unit name

    Year 1

    IAS161

    Modern Greek Language 1

    IAS162

    Modern Greek Language 2

    Year 2

    IAS261

    Modern Greek Language 3

    IAS262

    Modern Greek Language 4

    Year 3

    IAS362

    Modern Greek Language 5

    IAS362

    Modern Greek Language 6

    Language projects of your choice

    For those who have completed a language major or by negotiation (taking into account your proficiency and nature of the project to be undertaken), you can elect to study further advanced units in languages by enrolling in one of the following:

    • IAS403 Independent Study
    • IAS406 Language translation and protocols

    These units usually allow you to undertake special projects or negotiated language study, supervised by a lecturer in that language area.

    Depending on the language, projects may include research and reporting on topics of interest to you or which relate to your professional life. Enrolment in advanced studies units require special permission from the lecturer supervising your project and the unit coordinator.

    For more information on Modern Greek language study, please make contact with:
    Dr George Frazis
    George.Frazis@cdu.edu.au

  • Boomerang

    Yolŋu’ is the local word for ‘people’ and ‘Matha’ means ‘tongue’. Yolŋu Matha is the language group of the people in Northeast Arnhem Land, and is one of the most widely spoken Australian Indigenous languages of the Top End.

    The units taught at CDU concentrate on Yolŋu Matha forms of Dhuwala Gupapuyŋu and focus on the everyday community version of the language. This includes some loanwords from Indonesian as a result of the historical contact with the Macassans from Indonesia who came to northern Australia to harvest trepang (sea cucumber). Yolŋu Matha was first brought to what are now the Yolŋu lands by spirit Ancestors. Not only the linguistic aspects of Yolŋu Matha, you will also learn how the practice of language is inseparable from Yolŋu land, kinship, song lines, painting, and narratives.

    Yolŋu Language Study Plan

     

    Semester 1

    Unit code

     Unit name

    Semester 2

    Unit code

     Unit name

    Year 1

    IAS161

    Yolŋu Languages and Culture 1

    IAS162

    Yolŋu Languages and Culture 2 

    Year 2

    IAS261

    or

    IAS262

    Yolŋu Life and Literature

    Yolŋu Matha Conversation

    IAS261

    or

    IAS262

    Yolŋu Life and Literature

     

    Yolŋu Matha Conversation

    Year 3

    IAS362

    Yolŋu Text and Conversation

    IAS362

    Yolŋu Text and Conversation

    You can also study Yolngu Languages as part of a post-graduate program in the Master of Arts or Graduate Certificate of Arts. Check the course information for a study plan for these courses or talk to the Yolngu Studies Coordinator.

    Language projects of your choice

    For those who have completed a language major or by negotiation (taking into account your proficiency and nature of the project to be undertaken), you can elect to study further advanced units in languages by enrolling in one of the following:

    • IAS403 Independent Study
    • IAS406 Language translation and protocols

    These units usually allow you to undertake special projects or negotiated language study, supervised by a lecturer in that language area.

    Depending on the language, projects may include research and reporting on topics of interest to you or which relate to your professional life. Enrolment in advanced studies units require special permission from the lecturer supervising your project and the unit coordinator.

    For more information on Yolngu language study, please make contact with:
    Yasunori Hayashi
    Yasunori.Hayashi@cdu.edu.au

  • Arrernte is the ancient ancestral language of the peoples of Eastern and Central Arrernte, in Central Australia. Their traditional land covers the area of Alice Springs and East MacDonnell Ranges.

    There are about 3000 speakers of Arrernte, and it is regarded as an endangered language spoken mostly by older people. According to their law, Arrernte people have a spiritual connection with everything on the land, including trees, rivers, rocks, animals, and the mountains. An understanding of the language will enable a richer appreciation of social and cultural practices, both traditional and contemporary, in an era where environmental changes are increasingly important and relevant in Australia. Uniquely, every Arrernte word ends with the letter “e”, although it is not always pronounced. Arrernte is offered in collaboration with the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education.

    Arrernte Language Study Plan

     

    Semester 1

    Unit name

    Semester 2

    Unit name

    Year 1

    IAS161

    Arrernte Language 1

     

     

    One unit of Arrernte language can be studied at postgraduate level by enrolling in IAS549 Learning an Indigenous Australian Language. This unit is designed for postgraduate coursework students. Undergraduate students should enrol in IAS161 in Arrernte. Both are designed for beginners with no previous knowledge of the language.

    For more information on Arrernte language study, please make contact with:
    Dr Angela Harrison
    Angela.Harrison@batchelor.edu.au

  • Indigenous woman on a computer

    Bininj Kunwok is the term for a group of related languages spoken in West Arnhem Land, in Australia’s Top End. ‘Bininj’ is the local word for ‘people’ and ‘Kunwok’ means ‘language’, so it is the ‘people’s language.

    In this course, you will learn the specific variety known as Kunwinjku, which is the most widely spoken variety of Bininj Kunwok, spoken in Gunbalanya, in the stone country to the east of Kakadu National Park. Bininj people are known for their magnificent artwork, including some of the oldest rock art in the world, and their country is rich in natural beauty, wildlife and sacred sites. Learning Kunwinjku will give insight into the people, culture and land of the Bininj, and helps students understand and respect people from this particular Indigenous language group.

    Bininj Kunwok Language Study Plan

     

    Semester 1

    Unit name

    Semester 2

    Unit name

    Year 1

     

     

    IAS161

    Bininj Kunwok Language 1

    One unit of Bininj Kunwok language can be studied at postgraduate level by enrolling in IAS549 Learning an Indigenous Australian Language. This unit is designed for postgraduate coursework students. Undergraduate students should enrol in IAS161 in Bininj Kunwok. Both are designed for beginners with no previous knowledge of the language.

    For more information on Bininj Kunwok language study, please make contact with:
    Cathy Bow
    Cathy.Bow@cdu.edu.au

Postgraduate studies in languages

There are options for postgraduate studies and research in languages. Postgraduate study in Indigenous languages as identified above is available through the:

  • Graduate Certificate of Arts
  • Master of Arts.

Research work can also be conducted in the Master of Arts if you are keen to explore your options for research in languages. If you are interested in furthering you work in a language where you have some proficiency (including the langauges above), contact:

Master of Arts
Dr Tracy Woodroffe
Tracy.Woodroffe@cdu.edu.au

For other postgraduate course work options for language study, contact:
Greg Williams
Greg.Williams@cdu.edu.au

Honours

If you are interested in undertaking Honours, please contact our Honours Coordinator:

Dr Kate Golebiowska
kate.golebiowska@cdu.edu.au
(08) 8946 6891.

You will need to have a GPA of 5 or above in your undergraduate study or be able to demonstrate capacity to undertake independent research, but if you are keen, contact the Course coordinator and make arrangements to discuss suitable topics and proposals for research with academics in the language area.

 

Find a Course and Study Languages at CDU