Political policies and language learning

Critics have ridiculed Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott’s vision of preparing the next generation of Australians for the international job market.

Under a Coalition Government, all pre school children would study another language, and targets would be set for 40% of Year 12 students to study a second language. Currently the percentage is 12%.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has reminded voters that in 2002, Abbott was part of the Howard Government, which axed a successful foreign language program that had doubled the number of students studying Asian languages.

Professor Joe Lo Bianco, from Melbourne University, and formerly the Director of the National Languages and Literacy Institute of Australia, said

“We need a wide range of languages taught in Australia within a sensible national language policy that addresses Indigenous, Asian, European and World languages.”

He added that any language plan devised by a political party should be treated with suspicion.

“We have had so many of them, few consistently implemented and even fewer properly conceived,” he said.

The Coalition’s costing estimate for this plan is to be revealed before the next election.