The Role of Language Learning in Culture

The ever increasing role that Asia is playing in the futures of both Australia and New Zealand, and in particular the economic and social importance of China as a regional neighbour and trading partner for both countries, is not “new” news.

And particularly, as it pertains to second language learning, much has been written on the potential benefits to this relationship with the development of Chinese language education in Australian and New Zealand schools. The predominant view is that a good and mutually beneficial relationship will require a pool of Australians and/or New Zealanders who have a good understanding of the country and its culture and who’ve learnt to speak the Mandarin Chinese language well.

However, a recent report on ABC news brings a new perspective to this discussion from the Australian point of view, with experts saying that not only will the inclusion of Asian languages in the national curriculum go a long way to enhancing this relationship; it could also help curb racial discrimination.

And with a number of recent racial abuse incidents recently reported in both Melbourne and Sydney it would appear that the new language learning reforms proposed as part of the “Australia in the Asian Century” White Paper, released last October, are increasingly urgent.