[lg policy] Australia: Language study shuts up

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 27 17:01:24 UTC 2011

Language study shuts up

    The Sunday Telegraph
    October 16, 2011 12:00AM

NSW Education Department figures show a 43 per cent drop in numbers of
students studying a second language in the last 15 years. STUDENTS are
saying "sayonara" to learning new languages at school, with Japanese
showing the biggest fall. NSW Education Department figures show a 43
per cent drop in numbers of students studying a second language in the
last 15 years.

Fewer than 160,000 of the state's 742,141 public school students from
kindergarten to Year 12 studied a foreign language last year.

Japanese remains the most popular, but the number learning it has
dropped by almost 50,000 since 1996. Only 1376 students took a senior
course in Japanese for their HSC.

Students taking Indonesian - once the third most popular language in
schools - decreased so dramatically that experts predict it will not
be on the 2018 curriculum.

Less than nine per cent of this year's Year 12 students will sit a HSC
language exam this year, the NSW Board of Studies revealed this week.
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    Flaws in application of language scores The Australian, 27 Jul 2011

Experts say if the government does not stem the dwindling numbers,
Australian students will fall behind in international education
standards. They fear that generations of Australians won't have the
skills to develop business, political and economic relationships with
other countries, including Australia's Asian neighbours.

Australian Institute of International Affairs executive director
Melissa Conley Tyler said the decline could isolate Australia to our

"The challenge for Australia is the places that are most important to
us as a country - China, India, Japan, Indonesia - are all very
different culturally," Ms Conley Tyler said. "If we don't have people
who can talk the language, it becomes difficult."

Ms Conley Tyler said that the number of students taking up a language
would continue to decline without government intervention.

University of Sydney expert in languages education and bilingualism,
Dr Ruth Fielding, said failure by the NSW government to review the
curriculum since 1991 had led to the declining numbers.

"We need either a national policy or a state policy mandating more
hours of language learning in order for students to see it as
valuable," Dr Fielding said.

"The policy we have is one that was written in 1991, which is quite
old as far as education policies go," she said.

NSW students are only required to study 100 hours of a language in years 7 or 8.

She said a draft proposal for language studies under the national
curriculum could mandate more hours.

"Even if you haven't achieved fluency, just being able to understand
another culture and how to work with people from a different
background is a very important skill," Dr Fielding said.


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