Bridging Communication Barriers

Communication barriers exist where important information is not available in a language that is in the repertoire of the person who needs the information; or where it is not available in a form, through a medium, or on a platform they have access to. In Australia about 15% of the population are regularly confronted with a language barrier. This negatively affects their education, employment opportunities, health outcomes, and all other forms of social participation. Language barriers can be particularly devastating during times of crisis. In this keynote lecture, I show how language barriers come about and how they can be bridged, particularly through informal language assistance and improved language services provision. Conceptually, I will argue against methodological individualism and for a reframing of language as a distributed resource.

Distinguished Professor Ingrid PILLER

Ingrid Piller is Distinguished Professor of Applied Linguistics at Macquarie University, where she previously served as Executive Director of the Adult Migrant English Program Research Centre (AMEP RC). Her research expertise is in applied sociolinguistics, with a focus on intercultural communication, language learning, multilingualism, and bilingual education. Key publications include Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice (Oxford University Press, 2016), which won the 2017 Prose Award in the Language and Linguistics category and the 2017 BAAL Book Prize. She is also the author of the bestselling Intercultural Communication (Edinburgh University Press, 2nd ed., 2017) and over 400 other publications. She edits the sociolinguistics portal Language on the Move and tweets about linguistic diversity @lg_on_the_move.