So, to be honest, this class was my first time delving into policy in such a critical manner. (Although I’ve been living here for over a year so I probably wouldn’t admit that to anyone…:))
Anyway, one of the interesting things about Chinese education is the consideration of language. I read this article posted in Sunday Age, an Australian newspaper, that explained some Australians’ reservations about Chinese language in education. Lately, Latin has surpassed Chinese in the amount of people studying it, which is a number educators did not anticipate–or want. In 2008, Kevin Rudd (former Prime Minister of Australia) wanted twelve percent of Australian students to be fluent in an Asian language by 2020. So this contrast in numbers was not only disappointing, it fell short of what the leader wanted.
Current PM Julia Gillard asked that the government prioritze, and even promote, Asian language. In the policy documents we are looking at as a group, the Chinese education is extremely proud of its language, if only as a means of creating a national identity. Because of this, I looked at the article with a critical eye: how would that create a displaced sense of unity? Would people who study the Chinese language be more or less likely to want to learn other languages? The article in the Sunday Age is almost appalled by this idea, and even thinks that students might get lazy and not want to study English. The article keeps saying that if students are forced to study Asian languages, they are just feeling force and not really apt to complete an immersion with that country or participate in an exchange program…I’m not sure I buy that though. I think students will be more inclined to do so once they know the language, and once they can fully appreciate seeing what actually exists in another country.
Language is only part of the equation.
Here’s the Sunday Age article if you’re interested.