|In 2009, Dan Ednie founded Melbourne’s first Chinese and English language exchange, where Australians learning Mandarin could put their classroom learning to use and international students can improve their English. The group of language learners quickly became a social hub for learners and speakers of Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Japanese and English with four weekly events and two annual conferences. Today Language Connection has over a thousand subscribed members, has fifteen volunteers, reaches more than three thousand people annually and has operations in Melbourne and Japan with plans in place to run events in China and Taiwan in 2012 (www.languageconnection.org.au).
Dan speaks English (native), Japanese (professional), Mandarin (conversational), Czech (conversational). The day after his final VCE exam, Dan plunged head first into three hours a day intensive study of Japanese. Over the next year he made friends with Japanese international students in Melbourne and achieved enough proficiency to perform and teach Footbag (hackysack) in Japanese for three months. In 2009 Dan went on exchange to the Czech Republic becoming conversational after three months and passing a subject taught in Czech (the other five subjects were taught in English). Since October 2009, Dan has learnt Mandarin Chinese and spoken daily since the 1 Jan 2010. Dan has a weekly radio program in about language learning and Australian culture in Chinese on 3cw.
Dan is a recipient of the Chinese Government Scholarship, and is currently in Nanjing University, doing a year of Chinese bridging courses before commencing a two year masters in education. Dan completed honours majoring in Linguistics at the University of Melbourne. He works as a research assistant in The Asia Institute. In Jan-Feb 2012 he was a visiting researcher at the Centre for the Advancement of Higher Education at Tohoku University, Japan. His research interests include Discourse and Pragmatics, Interactional Socio-linguistics, Second Language Acquisition, Language Testing and Rapport Development.
Dan authored his first book “Nothing’s Impossible: The Alan Rea Story”, a biography of one of Australia’s commercial aviation pioneers, in 2009. In 2010 was an editor of the biography “Burtta Cheney: A Life in Golf”. He hopes to continue to write and publish, but primarily on language.
Following his participation on the 23rd Ship the World Youth (2011), Dan founded SWY Microfinance, a lending group of ex-participants. Microfinance consists of lenders in developed countries offering low interest loans to small businesses in developing countries. The loan recipients are able to develop their business, improve the local economy and provide jobs. Lenders receive no interest, but receive their initial capital back, or can relend to the next project. In 2011 SWY Microfinance lent over US$5000 through 188 individual loan contributions. In 2012 the total amount lent is is projected to reach US$20,000.
From 2005-2008, Dan was the Australian Foobag Champion. Footbag (Hacksack) is an athletic sport involving highly dextrous tricks with a small bean bag. Dan served as the Education Director on the International Footbag Players Association and published the e-book The Vasek Klouda Manual: How to Play Footbag in 2009. He finished 7th place at the World Championships in 2007, then 13th in 2009. He has appeared on Australia’s Got Talent (2007), Saturday Disney (2008) and a Subway Commercial (2009).
Please contact Dan at dan dot ednie at gmail dot com for any inquiries. See his Full CV here.
· Complete this sentence: Imagine if…
Young Australian’s were given more support to learn about foreign languages and foreign cultures. If we were more Asian literate then it would help us as a country interact more often and more constructively with the Asian powers that will become more and more important to our economy and the world this century.
And please share with us:
· What is your vision for the future?
My vision is of an Australia where young people in high school and university who are studying languages, are able to use their desired language/s easily and often in their everyday life. We have a very multicultural society, and a massive resource in the international students who come here, but we remain stolidly monolingual.
Australians currently sit in a classroom and are told that they need to go to France to speak French, to China to speak Chinese and Japan to speak Japanese. Actually, all these groups are in our community already, we can get people speaking and practicing more now, so that they will be more fluent and confident when they get there. My vision is that language learners will be learning as much outside the classroom in the community as they do in – because you can’t speak a language unless you get out there and speak it.
· What are your ideas and solutions for community and global challenges we are facing?
I am dedicating my working life to creating more opportunities for people from different cultures and language groups to interact, learn about each other, work together and create friendships.
In Australia we have enormous numbers of Chinese and Chinese speaking, Japanese and Korea students coming here and aren’t being fulfilled because they can’t find Australian local students that want to hang out with them. At the same time we have 90% of High school students dropping out of Asian languages before year 12 because they can’t get enough confidence and don’t think they can ever use it.