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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 August 2010) . . Page.. 3854 ..


sources and appropriately qualified teachers capable of executing the local curriculum in the relevant language. Obviously, additional resources would be needed should further programs be contemplated. There are several potential sources for such funding, which, in partnership with the ACT government, could provide the necessary resourcing for the schools.

Of course, partnerships with the respective governments would be valuable sources of funding to facilitate teacher exchanges. Further sources of potential support are the University of Canberra and the Australian National University. There is a great deal of potential for there to be a stream from kindergarten to graduation at university. This would build on the large body of research demonstrating that foreign language learning is most effective in the early years and would generate parental support from an early stage.

Finally, the federal government may embrace this concept and offer financial support as part of the national Asian languages and studies in schools program. From January 2009, the new national Asian languages and studies in schools program supported additional language classes in high schools, and further teacher training and support, as well as specialist curricula for students who display advanced abilities in Asian languages and studies. There may be some scope in this program for bilingual schools to be considered.

The 2008-09 federal budget increased languages funding by $62.4 million over three years. If this trend continues, there is potential to seek recurrent funding from the federal government to support the development of additional bilingual schools here in the ACT.

Under the national Asian languages and studies in schools program, all states and territory governments have agreed to the target that by 2020 at least 12 per cent of all students will exit year 12 with fluency in one of the targeted Asian languages—that is, Mandarin, Japanese, Indonesian and Korean—sufficient for engaging in trade and commerce in Asia and/or university study. I wonder how we can achieve this objective given the limited time that students are able to dedicate to these complex languages.

I am very proud of the ACT Labor government record in terms of education. I commend the minister for his desire to build on our excellent education system to further improve ACT public high schools and colleges. Language education has long been a complex and challenging area of public policy, as I said at the beginning, and we will continue in our commitment to effective policy in this area.

I believe that immersion is the way we will achieve concrete outcomes in terms of the numbers of students proficient in a foreign language. As I said before, it takes many hours of study for a person to become fluent in a language to a level just short of being able to speak it as their native language. Immersion, I believe, will give us these concrete outcomes in terms of the numbers of students proficient in a foreign language at a level where they are able to work and live in that environment and to benefit from it later in life.


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