|PROF MARTA SPES SKRBIŠ
“Born in 1966 in Maribor, lived in a small village Spodnja Loznica on the outskirts of Slovenska Bistrica on a family farm. My father was a farmer, my mother was university educated and spent 40 years teaching.I attended primary school in Slovenska Bistrica, Grammar School in Maribor and then moved to Ljubljana for my undergraduate studies at Filozofska Fakulteta (Faculty of Arts) University of Ljubljana.
I graduated in 1990 with a double degree in Comparative Slavic Linguistics and Slovenian Language and Literature both with teaching qualifications.
From 1989 to the beginning of 1991 I taught in high school in Maribor, then moved to Adelaide to be with my husband Zlatko Skrbiš, who was an international postgraduate student. We have planned to stay in Adelaide for three years until he completes his studies. We enjoyed this new experience and took whatever opportunities we had to learn new things and mastering English. Over the three and half years, we made many life-long friends.
While Zlatko was a full-time student at Flinders University doing his PhD, I soon became engaged with Slovenian community in a multitude ways. I was giving community lectures, helped with cultural and religious celebrations, worked at a community radio and taught in a Slovenia school.
During our time in Adelaide both our children were born, Matija in 1992 and Zala in 1993. They made our little family complete.
Zlatko completed his study in 1994 and was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in social sciences in January 1995. Late 1994 we all returned to Slovenia despite the fact that Zlatko was offered an academic job at Queensland University of Technology. We stayed in Slovenia for ten months waiting for our working visas to be processed. During that time, I returned to full-time teaching in one of Maribor’s grammar schools.
In late 1995 we relocated to sunny Brisbane, where Zlatko took up his first academic post as a lecturer in sociology. After somehow cumbersome process of my qualifications assessment and recognition, I registered as a teacher. As children were still small, I spend the next two years as a casual supply teacher in Catholic schools.
In 1997, I started teaching English as a Second Language and Senior English Studies at Lourdes Hill College and Loreto College, both independent Catholic schools for girls. In 2000, I finished my Master of Applied Linguistics and left Loreto for a full time teaching position at Lourdes Hill College.
I took every opportunity to learn and study second language development in international and immigrant students and have developed many resources and alternative methods for teaching and assessment. I became a member of various professional organisations such as Queensland Association of Teachers of English as Second or Other Langauge, edited QATESOL Newsletter for some years, became more and more involved in international education. International education, its trends, polices and compliance, but above all education for international students became my passion.
In 2002 I became International Education Coordinator at my school, managing marketing, recruiting, compliance and pastoral care of incoming international students. To this role, I added a role of a House Coordinator at the same school for the next six years, entering educational management. I had much to learn but enjoyed a supportive environment which fed my curiosity, thirst for knowledge and passion for education. I was an active and integral part of a beginning of the systematic approach to international education in Queensland, working closely with central Independent Schools unit and government agencies. I left my teaching and coordinating positions in Brisbane at the end of 2012, after 16 years at the same institution. I followed my husband on his new job opportunity in Melbourne.
My experiences provided me with a deep understanding of multiple complexities of international education. These I was able to utilise fully in my new position at Monash University, a new environment, different students, large institutions, however, the major issues were identical to those I have worked on for most of my working life.
At Monash University, where I currently work, I developed a unique set of programs aiming at enhancing international students understanding of English in a cultural context. My small team grows from year to year as we are reaching new successes with our programs. With our innovative approaches my team and I continue to make a difference to people coming to Monash to not just get a degree from a world-class university, but to understand truly their study and social environment.
In my view, global education became a modern necessity, every person’s knowledge needs to be embedded in the understanding of other cultures, languages and behaviours. Contemporary professionals cannot be expected to live and work in one place all their lives – we live in a world where everything is changing, everything is accessible and not limited by geographical or political boundaries. Most of my students will at some point of their working lives work on other continents and countries. It is my responsibility to provide them with transferable intercultural skills and tools which will help them be successful professionally and personally in a globalised world.”
Marta Spes Skrbiš
Skills and Expertice:
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Storytelling by Laura Premrl and Marta Skrbis (sound recording)
Marta Skrbi5 – English Connect, Campus Community Division, Monash University