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Foundation backs bill to strengthen language learning


Foundation backs bill to strengthen language learning in schools

The Asia New Zealand Foundation strongly supports the private member’s bill released for public consultation today which aims to strengthen language learning in primary and intermediate schools.

“If eventually passed by Parliament, the bill filed by Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, National’s education spokesperson, will have substantial benefits for our young people and for our country,” says Asia New Zealand Foundation education director Jeff Johnstone.

“The absence of a national policy on languages is concerning,” says Johnstone.

“We must have a more deliberate approach to language learning so our children don’t miss out on the opportunities that are available for those who have the advantage of knowing more than one language,” Johnstone says.

With the rise of Asia’s relevance to New Zealand, proficiency particularly in Asian languages will give young New Zealanders exciting career opportunities both here and overseas, according to Johnstone.

In addition, Johnstone said such a law would help improve student achievement, citing multiple studies showing the benefits of being multilingual. He said it would also help protect languages and cultures now part of New Zealand’s society.

There is an urgent need for a coordinated approach – a specific strategy on language learning from early childhood education through to tertiary level,” says Johnstone.

Last year, the Foundation released the report ‘Losing Momentum: School Leavers’ Asia Engagement’ which shows there has been a decrease in the proportion of senior secondary students who are learning an Asian language from 39 percent in 2012 to 34 percent in 2016.

“This private member’s bill by Nikki Kaye is a step in the right direction and we enjoin other stakeholders to support it,” he says.

ENDS.

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