ARC Linkage Project: Connecting younger second language learners and older bilinguals. Intergenerational, intercultural encounters and second language development.

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Intergenerational, intercultural encounters and second language development

Project description

The project brings together upper secondary school learners of Chinese, German and Spanish with older speakers of the language, promoting mutually beneficial inter-cultural, intergenerational encounters.
Such encounters enhance second language acquisition outcomes for the young language learners. For the older participants these encounters provide opportunities for greater social engagement, resulting in an enhanced sense of empowerment, wellbeing and self-esteem.

Project Description in ChineseGermanSpanish

Project aims

1.   To give younger Australians learning a second language and older bilingual people whose first language the students are learning, the opportunity to meet and converse in the language.

2.   To assess the effects of such encounters on the students’ second language proficiency, conversation management skills, language attitudes, intercultural knowledge and attitudes to ageing.

3.   To assess the effects on the wellbeing and self-esteem, empowerment and feeling of belonging of older bilingual Australians.

Benefits for young language learners

The utilization of community resources in structured second language learning environments such as the school or university classroom has the obvious advantage of providing students with additional practice scenarios, increasing exposure time to the language. As a result the interaction with native speakers and recreation acquisition settings complement the more formal learning environment. The student participants also develop and experience a heightened sense of learner autonomy.

Benefits for seniors

Inter-generational interaction is considered by gerontologists to be essential for ‘healthy ageing’. The opportunity to pass on one’s linguistic and cultural expertise provides an enhanced ‘active ageing’ experience, to use a popular term often applied by Local and State Government service delivery providers.

Benefits for teachers and schools

A KIT has been developed for teachers to assist in the planning and implementation of an ‘Intergenerational and Intercultural Language Encounters Project’ for students. A detailed study VCE component has been designed based on the project by teachers from the three different languages across different educational sectors. It is a template that can be used for all languages.

Download the KIT and the Detailed Study template here

Benefits for communities

The project ‘Connecting younger second language learners and older bilinguals’ creates an environment where the interests of different generations intersect, each enhancing the other’s experience of self, identity and agency. This research project also assists in shaping future attitudes and interactions across our shared language and culture.


Please find detailed information about our research activities on our research website.


  • Our academic team are: Dr Marisa Cordella, Professor Colette Browning and Ms Ramona Baumgartner. Find out more about our partner organisations. Read more
  • Project Partners’ Site – Communication platform for Partner Organisations Research Site – Communication platform for the Research Team Teachers’ Site – Communication platform for Teachers   Read more