Response to Council of Australian Governments (1994): National Asian Languages Strategy for Australian Schools

This post is from a course that I took. I had to make blog posts for the course and I decided to move the posts over here when the course finished.

Council of Australian Governments. (1994). Executive summary. In Asian languages and Australia’s economic future (pp. i-xix). Canberra: AGPS.

This summary does a good job of outlining the economic advantages of having a population that is skilled in languages other than English, especially Asian languages. The fact that this is the 16th such report in 25 years means that it is a problem that had yet to find a suitable solution by 1994. The executive summary indicates that there was a goal of increasing the proportion of Year 12 students studying a LOTE to 25% by the year 2000. I would be interested to learn whether or not that came to be. The fact that 40% of upper year students were studying a LOTE in 1960 and that had decreased to around 11% by the 1990s is rather disconcerting. What changed during that time to make students lose interest in language learning?

Another point that interested me was the idea that by Grade 10, students are expected to have “survival” level proficiency. Is that really as good as it gets? Since the report recommends starting in Year 3, this means that after 7 years, the big lofty goal is for students to have survival level proficiency? (I would also be interested in reading more about what this level designation really means.)