[EDLING:176] Australia: Not minding our languages
Francis M. Hult
fmhult at DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU
Tue May 29 18:50:41 UTC 2007
Not minding our languages
AUSTRALIANS are dunces when it comes to foreign languages and this is damaging
the nation's performance in trade, tourism and cultural diplomacy.
So says the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the elite Group of Eight
universities, which will hold a Languages in Crisis summit in Canberra next
week to discuss ways of improving the situation.
Only 13 per cent of year 12 students study a foreign language and 6 per cent
learn an Asian language, while just half the school-aged population has had any
form of foreign language learning. Australian Academy of the Humanities
executive director John Byron said the shortage of bilingual speakers was "the
great unacknowledged skills crisis in Australia".
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