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Why Learn a Foreign Language


'We want young Australians coming out of school with the tools that they need to ... two of the 170 children at St Joseph's and an estimated 5000 across the state ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Why Learn a Foreign Language

Why Learn a Foreign Language?
Languages Matter!
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An Australian Government Priority
  • Quality languages education for all students,
    in all schools, in all parts of the country.
  • Shared vision by all States and Territories

Language skills and cultural sensitivity will
be the currency of the new world order
General Peter Cosgrove 2002
  • We want young Australians coming out of school
    with the tools that they need to work in that
    modern environment, and increasingly that
    environment will require them to be able to
    converse with people in our own region in their
    own language.
  • Julia Gillard Deputy Prime Minister Minister
    for Education, March 2008

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  • The Rudd government is trying to halt the
    decline in the number of students graduating
    without foreign language skills by pushing the
    states towards a nationally consistent language
  • Sydney Morning Herald March 2008

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To effectively participate in a globalised
world there should be the compulsory learning of
a foreign language from 7 years or earlier.
Australian Chamber of Commerce - Skills for a
Nation A Blueprint for Improving Education and
Training 2007-2017 April 2007
  • Monolingualism will not serve the next
    generation well - it implies inflexibility and
    the presumption that others should always be
  • To use English creates a culture of dependence
    on the linguistic competence and goodwill of
  • Nuffield Languages Inquiry 2000 - UK

  • Top unis to tackle languages crisis
  • LEADING universities are demanding radical
    action to tackle a crisis in the number of Year
    12 students graduating with a foreign language.
    The Group of Eight universities want a second
    language to be compulsory for all students from
    primary school to Year 10, more incentives to
    study languages at university and an advertising
    campaign promoting the benefits of learning a
    foreign tongue.
  • The Australian 2 June 2007

  • As the Go8 paper noted "Monolingual English
    native speakers are already losing the advantage
    in their own language because English language
    skills are becoming a basic skill around the
  • "Australians are increasingly competing for jobs
    with people who are just as competent in English
    as they are in their own native language and
    possibly one or two more. The London business
    world prefers graduates from European
    universities rather than British institutions
    because they speak English as well as at least
    one other language, and often two or three."

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Why do students study a Foreign Language?
  • Academic reasons
  • I enjoy learning it
  • Im good at it
  • I find it easy
  • Personal Interest Relationships
  • Career Reasons
  • It might be useful when I get a job
  • Great skill to have in life
  • Can help in a future career path

Learning languages helps foster intercultural
  • In an increasingly culturally and linguistically
    diverse world, intercultural understanding is
    essential for effective participation in the
    workforce and in society.

  • Putting Aboriginal languages on the curriculum in
    Walgett has improved race relations. SMH March

  • Putting Aboriginal languages on the curriculum in
    Walgett has improved race relations. SMH March
  • Ned and Geoffrey are two of the 170 children at
    St Joseph's and an estimated 5000 across the
    state who are learning some of the oldest
    languages on earth, because they attend a mostly
    indigenous school.They say it's fun. But
    teachers, parents and linguists say it is
    improving self-esteem, literacy and school
    attendance, rescuing indigenous languages from
    near oblivion and bringing communities such as
    the 8000-member Walgett shire, 700 kilometres
    north-west of Sydney, closer together.

In the future, students will live and
work in an increasingly shrinking world. They
may need to interact regularly with people
from other countries, including online. The
intercultural skills that students will attain
from learning a foreign language will help
them deal respectfully and effectively with
Through learning LANGUAGE we learn
about culture. Through learning about CULTURE
we learn respect for others.Through learning
RESPECT for others we can hope for PEACE.
Anonymous2008The International Year of
  • If you speak to a man in a language he
    understands, you speak to his head.
  • If you speak to a man in his own language, you
    speak to his heart.
  • Nelson Mandela 2007


It is essential that schools
prepare students to operate effectively for
this culturally diverse and multilingual
  • It is a multi-lingual world and Australian
  • companies are now realising that they need
  • languages to compete when trading
  • internationally.
  • 94 of the worlds population does not speak
  • English as their first language. 75 does not
  • speak English at all.
  • The salary uplift for those using languages at
    work can be anything from 8 to 20

  • A second language is now becoming a vital part
    of the basic preparation for an increasing number
    of careers. It can enhance career mobility and
    improve chances of promotion. The study of
    another language also enables the study of the
    culture, the beliefs, the attitudes embedded in
    that language and a full understanding of another
    society can be developed.

  • The evidence is clear. If Australian students
    have the opportunity to learn a language other
    than English there will be many benefits - not
    only for the individual, but for our nation as a
  • Julie Bishop Former Minister for Education,
    Science Training October 2006

Enhances literacy
  • By learning a foreign language, students gain
    insights and understandings about how languages
    function including knowledge about
  • The structure of words
  • The structure of sentences
  • The sound patterns possible in a
  • language
  • How the structural features of a spoken
    language can be manipulated

Enhances literacy
  • Knowing one language helps you understand
    another. Our first language and other languages
    work in partnership to strengthen and enrich our
    repertoire of literacy practices.
  • Australian research (Clyne 1995) showed that
    exposure to as little as one hour per week of a
    foreign language in the earliest years of primary
    school advances the age of reading readiness in

Stimulates Intellectual Development
  • Researchers from University College London
    studied the brains of 105 people - 80 of whom
    were bilingual. They found other languages
    altered grey matter - the area of the brain which
    processes information - in the same way exercise
    builds muscles. They also found that people who
    learned a foreign language at a younger age are
    more likely to have more advanced grey matter
    than those who learned later.

Improves cognitive development and thinking
  • Children in foreign language programs have tended
    to demonstrate greater cognitive development,
    creativity and divergent thinking.
  • Studies also show that learning another language
    enhances the academic skills of students by
    increasing their abilities in reading, writing
    and mathematics.

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