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Rebecca Kirkman

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Message for my father [Jul. 12th, 2010|02:58 pm]
[mood |crushed]
[music |Imagine - John Lennon]

Dear Father

I know you used to read this so I'll be as brief as possible. Thank you for wishing me a Happy Birthday. I only wish you had wished it to me tomorrow as that is the day of my birthday, not today.

Yours sick with despair.
Your daughter and youngest child.
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Threatening blot on the polyglot [Jun. 18th, 2009|10:16 pm]
ONLY one in 10 first-year students takes a language other than English at university and about one-third of those who begin a language last just one semester, a bleak new study has found.

The report for the Australian Academy of the Humanities blames an "aggressively monolingual culture" in which students learn that languages are an easily discarded "add on" rather than an integral part of their education.

"I was surprised ... and worried, frankly, by the significant numbers of people doing just a semester," said Colin Nettelbeck, an academy fellow and chief investigator for the study, which took a fine-grained snapshot of first-year modern languages at a cross-section of 10universities.

The report reveals a narrow range of languages by global standards, a skewing of programs towards beginners, high attrition rates, a curriculum built on the assumption of a three-year program, declining contact hours, rising numbers of casual teachers, the threat of abolition if enrolments fall too low and defacto financial penalties if numbers rise.

"The absence of any kind of firm or explicit undertaking (from the commonwealth government right down to some faculty deans) in relation to the importance of languages tends to create a situation in which students themselves can come to look at language learning as asort of 'add on' rather than something that is fundamental to their education," said Professor Nettelbeck, an honorary professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne, where he was head of languages and a French scholar.

The study concludes that 90per cent to 95 per cent of first years take no languages at all.

The two-year study period ended in 2007 but the report suggests a further narrowing of the languages on offer is inevitable. Beginners' Indonesian declined by 41.3 per cent from 2005 to 2007.

The languages of Asia fell while those of Europe rose, with Spanish accounting for 80per cent of the growth.

Yet the strength of beginners' Spanish reflected in part its weakness in the schools, a fact pointing to a serious problem of preparation for universities.

"The number of students completing a language other than English at school has gone down over the past 20 years from approximately 48 per cent to about 13 per cent, as a result of removing a language requirement for entry to higher education," said Anne Pauwels, a scholar who kept up her interest in language planning following a move to Britain from the University of Western Australia.

In the academy of humanities study, the percentage of students who take no more than one semester of language study ranges from 25 per cent to 50 per cent. One-third of those who finish a first-year language course do not go on to a second year, with a similar proportion of those finishing second year failing to start a third year.

"What I was intrigued by wasthe disparity among different universities, where you have some universities taking more than twice as many students (of a given language) through to a major," Professor Nettelbeck said. "One of the key factors in retention seems to be the student experience of workload. Students find that learning languages is more demanding than they anticipated."

Institutions with higher retention rates tended to confront this squarely, "laying out (in advance) the workload, week by week, practically lesson by lesson, for the whole year".

There were some reasons for optimism, including a tentative return of Russian, first-rate teaching despite all the difficulties across the sector and the language stimulus provided by the Melbourne model.

But Professor Nettelbeck said there was at best a vacuum in language policy and at worst an aggressive monolingualism.

"We hear an awful lot of discourse about how English is the most widely spoken language in the world and that therefore we don't need to know any other languages," he said.

"Until young people start to travel, it's something that they tend to believe.

"(Language learning) is an absolutely necessary condition for the exercise of personal potential in a globalised world.

"It's just not possible to be a monolingual English speaker and have any kind of serious cultural interaction with the rest of the world."
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Muppets [Nov. 1st, 2008|10:32 am]

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Muppets [Oct. 25th, 2008|01:32 pm]

Strangely enough I could foresee something similar breaking out at my wedding...

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Muppets [Oct. 18th, 2008|01:13 pm]

I too have kissed the Blarney stone, which may explain why the use of "Oh Boy" has increased in my vernacular. Thanks to Rach for pointing this out to me.

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Insomnia [Aug. 18th, 2008|11:41 am]
[mood |frustrated]

I am not sure how long it has been now but I am guessing 4 weeks. I am going nuts from insomnia. No matter how tired I am when I go to bed ( and I am generally pretty tired) I cannot get to sleep before 2am.

Does anyone have any guaranteed solutions? Tried taking herbal sleeping pills but they have done nothing. And it's not a caffeine thing either.
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International Lawyers will be pleased. [Aug. 16th, 2008|02:02 pm]
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Muppets [Aug. 15th, 2008|02:08 pm]

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But is it Garfield? [Aug. 15th, 2008|02:00 pm]
As a Garfield fan I found the following site, which I accidentally stumbled on, an interesting concept:
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(no subject) [Aug. 14th, 2008|04:09 pm]
It’s August 14. HAPPY SINGLES DAY!
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Muppets [Aug. 9th, 2008|04:34 pm]

Da beency bouncy burger!
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No jokes about degrees of separation please. [Aug. 9th, 2008|04:33 pm]
If anybody was watching the news and saw a baby delivered at 8.08 am on 8.8.08, you should know that the man who delivered that baby is my gyno.
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Getting to know you [Aug. 7th, 2008|07:19 pm]
This week’s question is a tribute to the Olympic Games which start tomorrow:

What is your all-time favourite Olympic moment?

For me, it’s the 4 x 100 m Men’s Freestyle Relay in Sydney 2000. I watched this in an internet café in Tokyo and had to clamp a hand over my mouth to stop myself from screaming.

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Look what they've done to our house Mum! [Aug. 5th, 2008|03:16 pm]
[mood |sad]

Thank you Google Maps Australia. I now have to go somewhere and cry! We had so much vegetation and garden and space in front of our garage. To remove the blackboys is downright unforgiveable - they predate white man!

The white bay window on the left of the house was my bedroom from age 0-17. How I miss you Stoneham Road.

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The Starbucks Black Market [Aug. 4th, 2008|01:58 pm]
[Current Location |Commercial Law lecture (shh - don't tell!)]
[mood |amused]

This is what happens when you shut down Starbucks in Oz. Beautiful!
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Muppets [Aug. 3rd, 2008|08:49 am]

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The Olympic Games [Aug. 1st, 2008|05:41 pm]
One week until the Olympics begin. I get to do something I haven’t done since 1996 – see the Olympics in my home country. 2000 was viewed in an Aussie bar in Tokyo with Paul and Maria while 2004 was viewed in a sports bar in Glasgow and from Lois’s timeshare in Madeira. Apparently we’re going to be the third-last country to file in for The Parade of Nations, then Zambia, then China.

I have a bad feeling about these Olympics, and it’s not because half of our gold-medal prospects are out with injuries. I never wanted China to get the Olympics because of their dreadful human rights record. My heart goes out to all the marathon contestants. When I lived in HK it was 32 degrees every day in August and sticky beyond belief. Moreover, whenever I went over the border to Shenzhen for a day I used to go back with a raging sore throat, convinced I was going to wake up sick as a dog the next day. Whenever I woke up in HK the next day I was fine. Turns out it was the raging pollution and all the cars in Shenzhen getting to my lungs. How anyone can run 42 km under those conditions is beyond me.

Then again, I didn’t want London to get the 2012 Olympics either ( I was rooting for Paris). Cannot wait to see how Heathrow and London public transport deal with the influx of visitors and athletes.
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Getting to know you [Jul. 31st, 2008|07:07 pm]
[music |Mission Control - Dandy Warhols]

In your own opinion, what is the meaning of life?
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Muppets [Jul. 25th, 2008|07:04 pm]

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Getting to know you [Jul. 25th, 2008|07:02 pm]

Tell me 5 totally random / trivial things about you. For example:

1.    I won a music scholarship in Year 8.
2.    I used to buy I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter on the sole basis that I admired the fact that someone had enough gumption to get up in a    marketing meeting and go: I know, let’s call this stuff ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’.
3.    I once went on a date with a guy who talked so much I managed to get through “100 bottles of beer on the wall” in my head while he talked.
4.    I have never played Spin The Bottle
5.    Had X and I married my initials would have changed from RSVK to RSVP
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(no subject) [Jul. 25th, 2008|06:58 pm]
Happy Birthday chockasunday
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Getting to know you [Jul. 19th, 2008|02:10 pm]

What was your first ever job / paid employment?

My first job was great. I was a tea / tidy girl at a hair salon in Ardross when I was 15. I got to do extra duties, learnt a lot and got free haircuts and professional shampoo and blowdrys for a year. Unfortunately “the recession we had to have” hit. What’s the first thing a woman cuts back on when trying to save money?
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Muppets [Jul. 18th, 2008|01:16 pm]

2001 fans should get a kick out of this!

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This may be of interest to fellow legal eagles [Jul. 18th, 2008|01:08 pm]
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Eureka: Epiphany 2 [Jul. 16th, 2008|04:36 pm]
Late last night I was thinking about the last 3.5 years in Canberra. It’s no secret that I have felt like a fish out of water since coming back – especially in Canberra. I started thinking about my return.

I came back to Australia for a number of reasons:
• My British visa had expired
• I had been accepted into ANU law. ANU has a reputation for being the best Uni in Australia.
• Demand for teachers in my field had lessened dramatically and I decided it was time to retrain
• People told me there was plenty of work and the economy was thriving
• For 6 years my friends had asked, “When are you coming back?”
• I wanted to be near my family, especially my Grandma

So I came back, determined to stay put in Australia permanently and start a new life. But, as detailed throughout my lj, things did not work out that way. Last night, after reviewing the last couple of years, I finally pinpointed the problem.

Nobody in Australia needs me.

Australian employers don’t need me.
My Perth friends don’t need me.
My QLD family doesn’t need me. You get the general idea.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means that it’s time to move on to the next phase of my life. Maria keeps telling me to go back overseas and she and I hail from similar circumstances. It would be nice to work for someone who appreciates my skills, abilities and experience. Speaking French and German is not highly valued in Australia, nor is my overseas experience. My old next-door neighbour Dermot told me that Aussie employers would look at my CV and decide I was unreliable, as I could not “stay put”.

I miss living overseas too. I miss being able to jump on a plane and know that in 3 hours I will be in a totally different country. I also miss the glamour that comes with living overseas. I miss wearing nice clothes, going to balls at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, the thrill of experiencing something new for the very first time, dancing on top of speakers in nightclubs (not as easy as it looks with a bass thumping out beneath you), unexpectedly being in the right place at the right time and meeting a worldwide famous celebrity or experiencing a part of history. But most of all, I miss being needed and nobody in Australia needs me.

I have no idea where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing this time next year, but basically I need to be somewhere where people need me as much as I need them.
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Muppets [Jul. 12th, 2008|05:02 pm]

Context: JC has spent the entire episode trying to get off the show.

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Oh and one more thing [Jul. 7th, 2008|02:49 pm]
I don't wanna finish the degree either.
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Epiphanies [Jul. 6th, 2008|10:25 am]
[mood |relieved]

Forgot to expand on a previous post ( sorry Rach). In a nutshell my epiphany was this:


Will explain the who what why when where how later.
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Info for vegetus (but the rest of you may find this informative) [Jul. 5th, 2008|02:31 pm]
Hi vegetus

The BritRail pass: Work out where you want to go. If you just want to go to places like Oxford, Cambridge etc then you can just take National Express Coaches but if you wanna go further then it’s worth getting a pass. Don’t forget you can always wait until you are over there and get it on the net. Are you a YHA member? If you go through them you’ll get 10% off.

Here’s the stuff I didn’t get to tell you yesterday:
1. Do all your city sightseeing as soon as you get there. Cos once you start working you’ll never get around to it and after three months things that once seemed exciting will seem mundane.
2. is a good source for all sorts of things.
3. RyanAir and EasyJet do have good specials but factor in the time it takes to get to Luton and Stansted and the cost and you’re better off just paying the extra cash and tubing to Heathrow.
4. Make a list of European places you want to see before you go. I fell into the trap of internal travel being too expensive and thinking “For 50 more pounds I can go to America / Israel etc”
5. Take out YHA membership – preferably life – before you go. It’ll get you cheap cinema tickets in London and good accommodation. But be warned. You can only stay in YHA in Germany if you’re under 26, YHA in Amsterdam is fabulous (Vondelpark) but crap in Paris.
6. Amsterdam: Seek out Gary’s Bagels, The Pancake Restaurant (near Anne Frank house) The Van Gogh Museum, The Resistance Museum and the Heineken Factory Tour. Great fun. And don’t forget - do Anne Frank House as late in the evening as possible.
7. Don’t even think of doing Europe in winter. That’s the time to try places like Morocco, Turkey, Israel etc.
8. London is a great place to try careers you wouldn’t even think of at home so if teaching gets on your nerves have a look at all the other stuff.
9. Buses 9 and 10 for West London are an absolute Godsend for seeing the sites aboveground. Bus 8 takes you to all the major touristy sites too.
10. Londoners have a short attention span. If a movie or play comes out, see it ASAP cos it will be gone in two weeks. is good for cheap tickets.
11. Londoners only like being friends with other Londoners. My best friends in London were Saffas, Spaniards, French and Israelis.
12. Do all the festival stuff – Wimbledon, Notting Hill, Edinburgh Festival, St Patrick’s Day in Dublin etc. That’s what it’s all about.
13. Get Cillian Murphy’s number for me *8)
14. Word of mouth is good. TNT also becomes your Monday morning bible.
You know all this. You’re a smart well-travelled woman who has common sense and knows what to do. For the love of God have fun and enjoy yourself. And make sure you keep us updated on lj and Facebook! And if you go anywhere I haven’t then send me a postcard. Chockasunday do you have anything to add?
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Getting to know you [Jul. 4th, 2008|12:53 pm]

Dedicated to "Liz"

What is the cheesiest music you have on your iPod / CD/ etc...?

For example, I have a CD that contains Moscow by Genghis Khan and Shaddup You Face by Joe Dolce.

Moscow, Moscow drinking vodka all night long, keeps you happy, makes you strong, oh ho ho ho ho hey!
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