[lg policy] Foundation backs bill to strengthen language learning

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon Jan 15 10:21:30 EST 2018

 Asia New Zealand Foundation backs bill to strengthen language
learning *Monday,
15 January 2018, 12:32 pm*
*Press Release: Asia New Zealand Foundation

*Foundation backs bill to strengthen language learning in schools*

The Asia New Zealand Foundation strongly supports the private member’s bill
released for public consultation today which aims to strengthen language
learning in primary and intermediate schools.

“If eventually passed by Parliament, the bill filed by Auckland Central MP
Nikki Kaye, National’s education spokesperson, will have substantial
benefits for our young people and for our country,” says Asia New Zealand
Foundation education director Jeff Johnstone.

“The absence of a national policy on languages is concerning,” says

“We must have a more deliberate approach to language learning so our
children don’t miss out on the opportunities that are available for those
who have the advantage of knowing more than one language,” Johnstone says.

With the rise of Asia’s relevance to New Zealand, proficiency particularly
in Asian languages will give young New Zealanders exciting career
opportunities both here and overseas, according to Johnstone.

In addition, Johnstone said such a law would help improve student
achievement, citing multiple studies showing the benefits of being
multilingual. He said it would also help protect languages and cultures now
part of New Zealand’s society.

*“*There is an urgent need for a coordinated approach – a specific strategy
on language learning from early childhood education through to tertiary
level,” says Johnstone.

Last year, the Foundation released the report ‘*Losing Momentum: School
Leavers’ Asia Engagement’* which shows there has been a decrease in the
proportion of senior secondary students who are learning an Asian language
from 39 percent in 2012 to 34 percent in 2016.

“This private member’s bill by Nikki Kaye is a step in the right direction
and we enjoin other stakeholders to support it,” he says.


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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