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Massey welcomes new funding for Asian languages

Friday, August 29, 2014
Massey welcomes new funding for Asian languages

An announcement that the Government will invest $10 million over five years to increase the provision of Asian language teaching in schools has been welcomed by Massey University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences Pro Vice-Chancellor.

Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley says Education Minister Hekia Parata’s announcement this week is important in preparing young New Zealanders to be leaders in the new global economy.

“Given the need for New Zealand to trade into non-English speaking countries, the ability to speak a range of languages has become a priority,” he said.

“The history of New Zealand in providing language teaching in schools is patchy, partly because it hasn’t been seen as a priority and partly because New Zealanders don’t have a strong history of multilingualism in their own homes and communities. That’s now changing, with significant non-English immigrant communities. But much more needs to be done.”

Ms Parata’s statement says the money will be used to create a contestable fund where schools can apply for funding to establish new Mandarin, Japanese or Korean language programmes, or expand or enhance existing Asian language programmes.

Professor Spoonley says his college’s School of Humanities – which offers Japanese, Chinese, Spanish and French language programmes at its Manawatū and Albany campuses, and by distance learning – is keen to work with the Government and schools to encourage languages as an important part of the curriculum with both personal and national benefits.

The announcement is also welcomed by Dr Penny Shino, head of the Japanese programme at Massey University and co-chair of JSANZ (Japanese Studies Aotearoa New Zealand).

She says the number of school students studying Japanese has dropped by over a third in the last two decades. “This is despite Japan’s continuing role as a vital trading and strategic partner,” she says. “We hope this new government initiative may help to reverse the trend, and to signal the value of languages and allow young New Zealanders to fully participate in the opportunities Asia represents”.

Dr Shino says her organisation (JSANZ) is keen to work collaboratively across sectors to promote Japanese studies in New Zealand.

Read the Minister’s statement here.


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