In Australia, talking about foreign language study is much more popular than talking the languages themselves: Bernard Lane

The current state of Chinese language studies in Australian schools illustrates the challenge the country faces in promoting Asian language study among English speakers. Currently just 3 per cent of Year 12 students take Mandarin and 94 per cent of these are of Chinese background.

This sobering statistic is cited by Bernard Lane in an opinion piece on Asian language study in Australia in The Australian (June 6, 2012, Higher Education p.28). He points to the “dismal failure” of the four-year National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP) that has disbursed $62 million and winds up this year.

In a new effort to address the lack of demand for foreign language studies, Schools Education Minister Peter Garrett has ”asked a gourp of business leaders and Asia literacy experts to find new ways to stimulate the interest of pupils and parents.” But, argues Lane, it is difficult for proponents of foreign language studies to identify immediate tangible benefits that flow from command of a foreign language. He advocates “a good mix of languages patiently and cleverly built up from the earliest years of school.”

Read the full text of Bernard Lane’s opinion piece at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/opinion/picking-the-next-language-winner-is-for-losers/story-e6frgcko-1226385344723 (login required to a personal account with The Australian)

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