Push for a national boost to community languages education
Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Community languages are hoping to get a boost to education programs around the country with discussions underway to reignite the National Languages Policy. Behind the push is Community Languages Australia (CLA), which is commencing discussions with government representatives, mainstream and ethnic schools boards, tertiary education representatives and other key stakeholders on the issue of putting community languages in the educational limelight. Australia last had a National Languages Policy endorsed by the Commonwealth Government in 1987. CLA executive director Stefan Romaniw said while the policy had been very effective when it was first introduced, but focus on the agenda has since been lost. Over the years there has been a National Statement on Languages Education. “Today in different jurisdictions, education providers have statements and policies outlining their individual vision and commitment to the supporting languages education, but a solid foundation and nationally coordinated policy will make sure this happens all over the country,” he said. “The policy will supplement the National Curriculum, and entrench language programs in the education menu in a consistent way.” Mr Romaniw says currently, without a national policy, language education is at risk of falling by the wayside. Over-crowded curriculums, lack of resources, lack of staff training, and a lack of demand of language subjects are just some of the hurdles faced by schools. The National Languages Policy aims to streamline different jurisdictions’ visions to iron out potential loopholes that could see some languages have difficulties getting the resources they need. “We have 69 community languages, and with an umbrella policy, no language will be discriminated against, all languages will be equal,” Mr Romaniw said. “At the moment we have languages like Japanese, French and Greek taking their place as one of the mainstream languages other than English. Then there are languages that need development in how they are promoted and taught, which includes Arabic, Spanish and indigenous languages. In some jurisdictions, all this is coordinated very well. National coordination will provide quality assurance and look into how stakeholders can provide additional resources for the teaching and learning of community languages. The proposed reignition of the national languages policy will focus on education issues and methods relevant to the times, but it will not be starting entirely from scratch. S Romaniw says the national policy will aim to take heed from the best of the 1987 model, as well as individual jurisdiction agendas, while addressing current education issues such as the use and integration of technologies in learning environments and one-on-one, personal education. The CLA understands that many today are beneficiaries of the original policy, and hopes that community language schools, universities, businesses and the media will support the motion and start a line of discourse within communities “It is about strengthening the foundations for social cohesion, sociolinguistics, social psychology and Australia’s future political and business ventures nationally and internationally,” Mr Romaniw said.