Labor commits to language classes for all NSW primary students


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Opposition Leader Luke Foley: “We need to create a multilingual network by introducing languages into the  NSW primary school curriculum.”


Every primary school student in NSW will study a second language under a major education policy announcement made by Opposition Leader Luke Foley .

A Foley Labor Government will introduce languages into the primary school curriculum.

Learning a second language is currently not compulsory in NSW primary schools.

Labor’s pledge would provide the resources and tools for every NSW primary school to facilitate language teaching.

The roll out would include full consultation with the education sector to determine the most effective and efficient ways to:

  • Fast track native speakers to become language teachers;
  • Provide funding and resources to enable schools without a language program to start one; and
  • Support schools (particularly in regional areas) to work together and share resources to maximise their capacity to provide a language program.

In NSW fewer than 40 per cent of primary schools have a language program ”“ and the majority that do are in the Sydney metropolitan area.

NSW lags behind other states and countries when it comes to teaching languages in primary schools. Notable figures include:

  • Twice the number of Victorian primary school students studying Mandarin;
  • Thirteen times more Queensland primary school students learning Japanese; and
  • Nine times more Victorian students are learning Indonesian.

Learning a second language is compulsory in a number of Asian countries including Japan, China, South Korea and Thailand. Almost every country in Europe requires primary school age children to learn at least one language ”“ usually English.

Australia’s close geographic and economic ties with nations like China and Japan will require more students to be equipped with an understanding of Asian languages.

Learning a second language will act as a stepping stone for primary school students to continue their language education and progress with the best foot forward into a globalised employment market. Says the Opposition Leader Luke Foley, “Primary school children in NSW deserve every opportunity to get a head start in life to compete in an ever changing world.

“This policy is about bringing NSW schools up to speed with other states and the rest of the world.

“By 2050, Asia’s economy will account for more than half of global GDP growth.  Our future economic prosperity relies on doing business in Asia, yet in NSW the number of students studying Asian languages is declining.

“It’s the role of the NSW Government to create a multilingual work force that can compete in our rapidly changing market place.”

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