07 December 2016

Why we should all take up Chinese

Author :

The Federal Government is pushing for Australian school children to learn more languages, and launched a foreign language programme, ELLA, for pre-schoolers to boost international literacy.

Currently around 8,500 pre-schoolers around Australia are using the app, with the top three most popular languages being Chinese, Japanese and French, the Adviser reported.

“Seeing and hearing young children counting, following recipes and singing in a language that isn’t their native tongue, you understand how engaging this app is and why it has had such positive feedback from kids, educators and families,” Education Minister Simon Birmingham said, the Adviser reported.

Perhaps it’s even more crucial now than ever, that we get on board the Asian market, considering that China is Australia’s third biggest trading partner.

Minister Birmingham was especially happy to see the strong uptake of Asian languages, considering that we live in an “Asian century”.

However, statistics show that for example in NSW between 2005 and 2015, the amount of Year 12 students taking Chinese went down from 1,500 to 832, with only 153 of those being non-native Chinese speakers, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

And nationally the statistics were equally bad, with 4,000 students taking Chinese in 2015, only 400 of those were from a non-Chinese background.

There are arguments that studying Chinese should be made compulsory for Australian school children. Though both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott showed interest in increasing the level of student participation in Asian languages, the task has now been passed on to current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. 

But let’s hope the recent initiatives by the government, as well as schools’ own initiatives to encourage students to take Chinese, will have a bigger impact than the poor statistics we’ve seen in recent years.

From a financial and business perspective, being able to participate on the Chinese market is crucial, and it has to start with the younger generation of Australians.

Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.

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