The following story is from the Age.
Premier Daniel Andrews says he wants to see more children learning a second language, but "there might be smarter ways to do it" than a mandated goal.
The state government has dumped an ambitious target to have every child from prep to year 10 learning a second language by 2025, as it reassess how languages are offered in Victorian schools.
"I think targets could be useful administratively for departments if they were realistic and based on some sort of prospect of being achieved."
The shift represents yet another change in the way languages are offered in schools. Over the years, successive state and federal governments have aimed to change Australia's status as a predominantly monolingual nation, but most have had limited success.
Before he was elected in 2007, for instance, Mandarin-speaking Labor leader Kevin Rudd announced a $68 million plan to revive Asian languages education but little in the classroom changed during his time in office.
Liberal leader Ted Baillieu used a trade mission to China in 2012 to launch an aggressive push for more young people to become proficient in Mandarin – including a scheme to send year 9 students to Jiangsu province to improve their grasp of the language.
The current government has adopted a different approach, taking the view that the quality of language education is more important than the quantity of students doing the subject – including when it comes to the native tongue of our largest trading partner, China.
"The thing to remember is that China will be the biggest English-speaking country in the world quite soon," Mr Andrews told Fairfax Media during a trade mission to Beijing, Nanjing and Chengdu. "So while language certainly helps, cultural awareness – understanding how decisions are made in China, developing those personal relationships – has probably never been more important."
In theory, language education is one of eight key learning areas that all schools must teach in Victoria. However, not all schools have the ability to offer a second language, which has traditionally been one of the hardest subjects in which to find qualified teachers.
( This is the issue at Glen Park. We weren't given the technology to run it via video link- not that I accept that that is the best way to teach LOTE and to hire a teacher even at 0.1 will cost the school $8000+ which is totally out of proportion to what we are able to spend on literacy and numeracy.These targets were ridiculous and never properly funded. There was a grant of up to $10000 that we didn't qualify for and it was only for one year. I'd love to know how many schools actually got it.)
Education Department figures show that while there has been a considerable increase in the number of public schools offering a language over the past two years, more than a quarter of primary schools and almost one in 10 secondary schools still don't teach it. Formal exemptions have been granted to 102 schools that were not able to provide a language program this year.
Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling accused the Premier of going to China and being "more focused on photo opportunities with pandas than providing educational opportunities to help Victorians take advantage of the Asian economy".
But Melbourne University professor of languages Joseph Lo Bianco said high-quality language programs were more important than targets.( EXACTLY: and this is why I have an issue with languages being taught via Skype and no effort to create apps for schools to use to support LOTE. People have been learning languages like this , individually via tape and CD and before that even records since the invention of sound recording! DETs departure from developing curriculum and curriculum tools is very evident in LOTE.I must have missed the memo about dumping the target and approaching language learning in a 'smarter' way. Maybe that will come next week?)
"Practically every government since the early 1990s has set targets and not a single one has ever achieved them," Professor Lo Bianco said. "Does this mean they're not worth doing? I think targets could be useful administratively for departments if they were realistic and based on some sort of prospect of being achieved. As we can see from the evidence, they haven't been."
Australian Education Union state president Meredith Peace said there was no point in setting up a long-term target without "enough thought on how you can encourage people into the workforce to teach those languages".
Last year, Chinese was the fourth-most studied language in the curriculum, with 52,061 students, or 15.4 per cent of those studying a language, taking on the subject.Ironically only 3 students are learning an indigenous languages.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/the-language-dilemma-andrews-dumps-ambitious-target-for-schools-20151002-gk056l.html?stb=twt#ixzz3oCvkvZDf
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