Tok Pisin at the Australian National University

Building on its deep connections with Papua New Guinea and its long and unparalleled research expertise in Melanesia, the Australian National University is the first university in Australia to offer Tok Pisin as a language minor. Available through the School of Culture, History and Language, Tok Pisin is taught in four courses. The School’s Tok Pisin language teachers are experienced academics with extensive research history in PNG, are native or near-native speakers of Tok Pisin and are also fluent in other languages local to Papua New Guinea.

Our students not only learn how to converse in Tok Pisin, but also gain an appreciation of how the language has reached far beyond its historical label ‘Pidgin English’ to become the cultural and political vehicle of a modern nation. Besides being the language that connects culturally and linguistically the most diverse nation in the world, Tok Pisin is also a language which, though largely built on English vocabulary, carries the richness of Melanesian expression, deriving from many languages of Papua New Guinea.

The four Tok Pisin language courses taught at the University are available entirely online. Tok Pisin can be studied as part of a degree or as a non-award subject at the University. It is also taught through Open Universities Australia. More information about Tok-Pisin language courses is available at the ANU website.

To open the door more widely to a knowledge of Tok Pisin, the ANU is now developing micro-credential courses in Tok Pisin. These intensive courses—whose length will be adapted to client needs—will bring together language learning and cultural awareness training in engaging ways, using video recordings in natural situations. All courses will include a face to face component, which will be delivered either in person or online. According to the length of the course, it will be possible to include special classes on the anthropology, archaeology, politics, history, ecology and economics of Papua New Guinea, all taught by experts in these fields. For those seeking information on particular regions (e.g. PNG Highlands, Sepik, the islands), individual classes can be included.

Respect and understanding of a culture begins with respecting and understanding the language, and the ANU team is dedicated to conveying this through a vivid, scientifically founded approach to teaching Tok Pisin in naturalistic contexts.

Language enquiries can be submitted to the School of Culture, History and Language via our web-form. For more information about micro-credential bespoke courses, please email .

Profile of the Lecturers.

The Tok Pisin courses are being designed, developed and delivered by Dr. Darja Hoenigman and Ms. Jenny Homerang.

Dr Darja Hoenigman is a linguistic anthropologist with a background in language teaching and translation. She’s a near-native speaker of Tok Pisin, her connection with PNG going back to 1998. She is also fluent in Awiakay, a Papuan language spoken in Kanjimei village of East Sepik Province. In her research Darja studies the ways people use language in different social situations, and her forthcoming book ‘The Talk Goes Many Ways’ focusses on the use of the local language and Tok Pisin in a small Sepik society.

Ms Jenny Homerang grew up bilingual in Tok Pisin and the Nalik language of northern New Ireland. With a background in journalism and communication, she started her career in teaching Tok Pisin in 2001, working for Australian and New Zealand DFAT. She joined the newly established Tok Pisin program at the ANU in 2018. Apart from teaching Tok Pisin, Jenny is also completing her PhD in Pacific history, with her research focussing on customary land rituals in mortuary ceremonies of her own Madina people in New Ireland.


A couple of months ago Darja started organising informal Tok Pisin lunch-time gatherings on the ANU campus. They are meant for everyone who would like to have a lunch-time chat in Tok Pisin, and who is in any way connected with or interested in Papua New Guinea, regardless of their origin or level of fluency. If a newcomer turns up, the group helps them to keep up with the conversation. Tok Pisin lunches take place every Thursday at 12:30 (unless it rains) in an open-air area where social distancing is possible. Anyone interested in joining in is most warmly welcome. Please contact for details.