[lg policy] Australia: Report blasts bilingual policy changes

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 27 14:16:17 UTC 2009

Report blasts bilingual policy changes
Posted Fri Jun 26, 2009 12:37pm AEST
Updated Fri Jun 26, 2009 12:56pm AEST

A new report says planned changes to bilingual education will not
improve grades. (ABC TV)

 A new report on bilingual education for Indigenous students has
reignited debate on whether the Northern Territory should change its
policy. Under the Territory Government's controversial changes to
bilingual education, all students will learn in English only for the
first four hours of the day from next year.  A report released in
Canberra today by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Studies states there is no evidence to suggest the
policy will work.

It says research shows children will achieve better results learning
in their mother tongue in the early years of education.  "If children
are speaking another language when they come to school, they really
need to be taught in that language so that they can get up to the
level where they can absorb English and other lessons in English," the
author of the report, Patrick McConvell, said.

"If you just walk in and start speaking standard English to these
children, you're not going to get good results." But the Education
Department's chief executive, Gary Barnes, says he remains committed
to the new policy. "The earlier we can expose students to standard
English in oral and written form the better it will be," he said.

Indigenous leaders are calling for the policy to be immediately reversed.

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