12 November 2011

Radical Ideas

I recently read an article recently about the lack of connection Australia has with Asia and in particular China Minding our languages. The article states that our language learning progress is and has failed for a number of years now. At primary, secondary and tertiary level we have failed to learn Asian languages. The main reason is too few teachers and too few students willing to learn languages.

To address this problem the idea is to stop spending money on language learning in schools and universities and send students to live and learn in Asia. This plan would be government funded. The proposal is to send 10,000 students a year. This may address the deficit we currently have in Asian literacy.

This is indeed a radical idea. However, for me it seems like something that might work. It is better than the stagnation and lack of interest in Asian languages and culture we currently have from many in Australia.

A similar news article, We must invest to latch on to the Asian century, also states very clearly that we must engage with Asia by investing in training and teaching Australians in Asian languages. The article has many facts and figures about the decline of Asian languages in Australian education. Apparently we are at the lowest point in Asian literacy since 1970.   

An alternative and ambitious plan from the Victorian state government to reverse the decline in language learning sounds similar to what I have seen before. Grants for Teaching Languages outlines the offer $ 1 million in grants to schools to halt the decline of language learning in primary schools. I am keen to follow the progress of this plan. It would be good if other state governments also implemented similar grants.  

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