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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 November 2018) . . Page.. 5021 ..

the commitment to language learning in ACT schools. There are distinct benefits to students and community that come from language learning, including cultural understanding and enrichment, as well as making students global citizens and increasing their cultural efficacy and employability.

Languages put students at the centre of learning about other cultures, providing critical capabilities, knowledge and a deep understanding of other cultures as well as their own. By learning languages and engaging in other cultures, students become more effective members of the diverse ACT community.

At 6 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MS BERRY: There are currently 28,854 students in ACT public schools who are studying a language. Schools in the ACT offer between one and eight different language options. Languages are one of the learning areas under the Australian curriculum. They are considered as much as a priority as other subject areas such as mathematics, English and science.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, ACARA, provides the following rationale for learning languages in schools:

Languages are intimately linked to the essentially humanistic, cultural and intellectual reasons for making education compulsory. Bilingualism can foster more reflective and imaginative dispositions in citizens, and the principles of democratic discourse, participation and opportunity which Australia proclaims also find resonance with language study since the bulk of humanity lives in societies and continues traditions forged outside of English.

There are diverse offerings of language in ACT schools. All ACT schools deliver the Australian curriculum, which has only relatively recently—at the end of 2015—released curriculum for languages beyond the priority languages. This goes some way to explaining to Ms Lee why some of the languages she raised are not available to school students. I suggest it would have been worth while for her to inform herself about when the curriculum became available for various languages.

Delivery of language education in a systemic, meaningful way that provides a quality learning opportunity for students relies on a curriculum. It also relies on quality teaching delivered by qualified teachers. Under the curriculum requirements policy, students in ACT public schools are required to study at least one of the eight priority languages, which are Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Italian or Spanish.

Students are required to study 60 minutes per week from years 3 to 6, and 150 minutes per week in years 7 to 8. There are 16 ACT public schools that offer Chinese Mandarin, including bilingual Chinese programs at Mawson Primary School. This is hardly “very few”. Again, Ms Lee’s motion is incorrect.

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