Friday, May 28, 2010

A nation adrift in Asia literacy

To those who care about languages education and Asia literacy in Australia (or who ought to - yes, you!)

Interesting cross-section of opinions among commentators on Greg Sheridan's A nation adrift in Asia literacy Some talk about the difficulty of character based Asian langages. "It's all too much like hard work." "To expect this of the average Australian student is unrealistic." Yet most Europeans successfully learn languages with very complex grammars. I had a brilliant German girl in first year Indonesian (!) tell me the other day I move them along faster than would be the case in Germany BUT she said they do endless exercises and they have years and years of school languages behind them. We might do better selling languages study as "highly demanding" and so respected, shows persistence and brains (as Japanese in Hobart used to be able to afford to do). Phil M.
See Greg Sheridan, A nation adrift in Asia literacy w reader comments
Chinamat of Melbourne Posted at 2:01 PM May 27, 2010 Comment 15 of 21

The industry in which I worked was decimated in the financial crisis. Considering joint-ventures with China critical to reviving that industry in Australia, I decided to turn disaster to opportunity and packed myself off to university at the age of 38. Despite an extensive CV, I couldn't get an offer at any good university for a place to study Chinese. I wrote to Julia Gillard to raise the issue with no result. I have to say my experience of the pointy end of trying to get re-trained with an Asia focus sees very little real support. I'm presently paying full-fee. To add perspective I can also tell you Chinese is the most difficult thing I've had to do in my life and I have a substantially higher work ethic than the typical school-leaver student. There lies the difficulty. The study of a language is extremely difficult but there's no additional consideration for it beyond perhaps an extra hour of tuition a week. Addressing this requires more fundamental reform than the recurring 'programs'. It needs more time to teach all the way from primary level, more credit in courses and a higher academic profile. The Asia Education Foundation is doing their bit but it's barely a start...

Go, Chinamat. Allez, all who care about languages education and Asia literacy in Australia.

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