Australia Government Invests $15.2M in Asian Language Literacy

June 21st, 2013 No Comments Other

The Gillard Government is investing $15.2 million in seven new projects to encourage more students to study Asian languages, and help teachers get the experience and skills they need in Asian literacy.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett said the funding was allocated in this year’s Budget as part of the National Plan for School Improvement.

“We’ll need some new thinking and new ways of teaching if we want to reach our goal of increasing the study of Asian languages in Australian schools,” he said.

“That’s why the Gillard Government is providing more than $15 million to education institutions to develop new curriculum and teaching resources and provide better training to pre-service teachers.

“This funding will also prioritise language fellowships for students studying Asian languages. And it will build better partnerships between schools, business and the community.

“Under the National Plan, this Government has set an ambitious goal of offering every child access to the study of an Asian language from their first day of school by 2025. We’re now getting on with the job of making this happen.”

The projects to boost Asian language teaching include:

  • Developing additional languages curricula for Chinese (Mandarin), Indonesian, Japanese and Korean for Years 11 and 12 and a new Hindi curriculum for all years to Year 12.
  • Training modules for Asian language teachers to introduce them to more effective methods for teaching Asian languages and increase their awareness of existing digital resources that can support their language teaching.
  • Training modules and resources for current and trainee teachers to help them incorporate studies of Asia into their teaching of all learning areas across the Australian Curriculum. 
  • A Flagship Program for Asia Literacy that will help teachers improve the teaching practices in Asian languages, culture and history at their school and to establish partnerships with local communities and business as well as schools in Asia. The program will be developed and delivered by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.
  • A  grants program to support innovative ways for schools to work with business, the community and other schools to stimulate demand for Asia language learning amongst students. For example, grants could support schools working with universities and businesses to promote Asian-linked career opportunities to their students.

The Government is also refocusing the Endeavour Language Teacher Fellowships program which allows language and trainee language teachers to go overseas to improve their language and cultural skills on Asia. The study program sends 50 per cent of participants to Asia and 50 per cent to Europe. By 2016 this ratio will be 80 per cent studying in Asia.

A new report released by Deakin University, Asia Literacy and the Australian Teaching Workforce, highlights the importance of the Government’s commitment to supporting Asia literacy in schools.

“For Australia to remain competitive in the Asian Century, young Australians need to have the skills to build strong relationships with Asia, so it’s vital our schools can provide language classes and opportunities for further study,” Mr Garrett said.

“Almost 2000 teachers and school leaders were surveyed for the report, – the largest study on this topic to date – and it takes stock of existing awareness of Asia, expertise in our schools, and provides a clear plan for future improvements.”

“Japanese is one of the priority languages to be emphasised in the Asian Century, along with Chinese, Hindi and Indonesian.

“The study of Japanese in schools will help Australia build stronger understanding and links with this very important regional neighbour, as well as supporting increased grade and commercial engagement.

Mr Garrett said the study of languages can help students develop their overall literacy skills.

“Learning another language also helps students understand the contribution that people of different backgrounds have and continue to make to Australia, helping to ensure ours remains a tolerant and productive community,” Mr Garrett said.


Saga Briggs is an author at InformED. You can follow her on Twitter@sagamilena or read more of her writing here.

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