Oct 29, 2012

Here’s one we prepared earlier: Labor goes back to Asia

Labor's new Asian vision is a lot like its Keating-era big picture, only with more spin. Labor looks like the party with some vision of where it wants to go, even if that vision is mainly rear-vision.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

If you have distinct feeling of déjà vu from the Asian century white paper, it’s fine: we’ve been here before, a lot.


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41 thoughts on “Here’s one we prepared earlier: Labor goes back to Asia

  1. Jimmy

    Another day another aritcle where BK strives to find the negatives in an otherwise positive policy (or vision) from the govt.
    That siad it is becoming increasingly clear that Abbott is no longer playing in the main game but he has failed to realise it. He is out there still swinging at the Carbon tax and MRRT while the electorate and govt has moved on to things like Gonski, NDIS and exploiting the foothold Australia has gained in Asia.
    If the libs don’t wake up soon they will find out they have lost the unlosable election.

    Oh and if Geewizz is out there strange that the one true poll (newspoll) has the govt level peggin wth the libs (not 44-56) which is much better than that union biased Essential had them last time out at 47-53 – isn’t abouttime to admit you have no idea what you are talking about?

  2. s.applin

    I wholeheartedly agree with objective of the National Languages Policy to have all students; however I feel very strongly that it needs to be one language continuously; “preferably continuously” is nowhere near good enough.

    I studied languages at primary school from years 3 – 7 (1990 – 1994) and in that time had the misfortune to cover 4 languages – a disgraceful waste of resources that resulted in a near net zero benefit to my education and a determination not to specialise in a language when I had the opportunity to do so in high school.

    If, as I think we should, students are to learn a language, it needs to be one language done continuously from whatever age is considered suitable to the end of high school. Learning a language is difficult enough when you are dedicated to it for years. Further, young children and teenagers difficult enough to motivate without them being disillusioned by the knowledge that the effort they’ve put into a language this year will be for nothing and they’ll have to start again on another language.

    Somebody needs to make a decision as to which language will be taught and then see it through.

  3. Damien

    The study of languages in schools is a joke. Not only the waste of resources that defines language teaching in primary school, but in secondary school as well. Most HSC type end of school credentials actually punish language students in the ways results are scaled, or manipulated, to reflect the relative abilities of various subject cohorts. Languages are difficult subjects and it is simply too easy to miss university entry if languages are chosen – unless the student absolutely blitzes the exam. Fixing the problem entails a bit of fundamental reform, associated with the traditional curriculum, elite schools and competitive, high stakes final year credentialling. I don’t see any discussion of those issues from the powers that be.

  4. Jimmy

    Damien – The grading of subjects in year 12 for what used to be an ENTER score does result in some weird things as people are encouraged to maths & science and get c’s than do what they are actually good at (and plan to study at uni) and get A’s.
    In most courses this imbalance is rectified to some degree by the lowering of the required ENTER score for the uni course however Language is a tricky one, being a bi-lingual Engineer could be very handy in the not so distant future but doing a language under the current system may make it difficult get into the engineering degree – this is where Uni’s need to look beyond the score and give bonuses for having a second language.

  5. Frank Campbell

    Everything Bernard Keane says about the reheated leftovers of the “Asian Century” (cringe…) is correct. Only thing different this time round is Gillard’s inimitable banality.

    “Asian century”-it’s all so…provincial, innit?

  6. Clytie

    In the early 70s, the Whitlam government was talking up engagement with Asia. I remember, because I was at school, and one of my prize books was about engaging with Asia, because it was a hot topic at the time.

    However, starting the pattern shown in the article above, we got one term of Indonesian, then it was cancelled. Pity: it’s a very easy language to learn.

    Since then, we have watched the Asian language/culture programs come and go at the whim of government. As with much education/training policy, it’s been an egregious waste of opportunity.

  7. Geoffrey Walker

    Deja vu all over again. After spending 45 years in Asia and now living back in Australia, I can say with some conviction that ‘Asia, your chicken is ready’.

  8. Clytie

    S.applin has a good point. My generation didn’t get any second-language teaching until high school, and then precious little of it. My youngest studied Turkish in kindy, Greek in junior primary school, Spanish in upper primary school and French at high school, all the while speaking English and Vietnamese at home and teaching herself Japanese. She has excellent cultural awareness, but little coherent capacity in non-English languages. As a linguist, I know she would pick up any of these languages quickly once immersed in them (due to her earlier exposure), but effective bilingualism would have been more useful to her, and to prospective employers.

  9. Damien

    Jimmy – agreed.Unfortunately, the culture of school education, and the rewards that accrue to education ministers, bureaucrats, private school administrators and the socio-economically advantaged from current arrangewments all mitigate against change. It’s the elephant in the room that no-one wants to address and which dooms announcements like this one just like all the previous announcements like this one.

  10. Geoffrey Walker

    I did Latin and French at high school and if nothing else it improved my knowledge and usage of English. I picked up some Cantonese as a child in HK and also studied Japanese intensively at university for 2 years in OZ and a year in Japan. I think to effectively use a second language you have to be immersed in it for some time. I have lived in Japan for more than 30 years and whilst considered fluent, I know that I am not there yet.There are freakish exceptions of course but in my experience different types of people learn languages in different ways. Some via musical instincts and talents and some by rote learning. Half baked teaching systems and lack of immersion opportunities tend to turn out people who are simply illiterate in more than one language .

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