The Coalition's Plan to Revive Foreign Language Study
Posted on Thursday, 10 May 2012
The Coalition will revive the teaching of foreign languages in Australian schools.
Knowing the languages of our key regional partners is vital to unlocking the potential of the Asian century for Australia.
A Coalition Government will work urgently with the states to ensure that at least 40 per cent of Year 12 students are once more taking a language other than English within a decade.
The teaching of foreign languages in Australian schools has long been in decline.
The proportion of Year 12 students studying a foreign language has dropped from about 40 per cent in the 1960s to about 12 per cent today.
China is Australia’s biggest trading partner, yet across Australia there are now only about 300 Year 12 Mandarin students who aren’t of Chinese heritage.
Japan is Australia’s second biggest trading partner and there has been a 21 per cent decline in students studying Japanese since 2001.
Indonesia is a vital partner in Australia’s long term future and on current trends Indonesian will disappear from Year 12 studies within four years.
Korean has all but disappeared from our education system – and Korea is our third largest trading partner.
Similarly Australia’s relationship with India is of growing importance and the Australian-Indian community numbers more than 300,000. But there has been a steady decline in the study of Hindi in Australia – for example in 2010 only 16 students sat the NSW HSC in Hindi.
A Coalition Government will reverse this trend and revive the teaching of languages in Australian schools.
If Australians are to make their way in the world, we cannot rely on other people speaking our language.
The Coalition believes that starting in pre-school every student should have an exposure to foreign languages.
Because foreign language speakers will have to be mobilised and because teachers take time to be trained, this will be a generational shift.
We will urgently work with the states to ensure that the Australian workforce of the future can grasp the full opportunity of the Asian century.
10 May 2012