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Australia says forget French, Mandarin’s the thing

May 12, 2012

It’s adieu to the French language at schools as experts advise a shift of focus from European languages

  • school

Rouse Hill Public School’s Chloe Van Der Houen, Alessandra Valle, Keenan Davis and Joel Wright learn Mandarin. Picture: Rohan Kelly Source: The Daily Telegraph

TO get ahead, children should learn Mandarin: that’s the advice from education experts who say schools need to shift their focus from European languages.

Although learning any second language is beneficial to children, the one that will deliver career and salary benefits is Mandarin – and students should stick with the same language through primary and high school to have any hope of fluency.

Reviving the language debate, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott used his Budget reply speech on Thursday to pledge a boost in language studies so at least 40 per cent of Year 12 students were learning a language other than English within a decade.

Mr Abbott would focus on languages of key regional partners like China, Japan, South Korea and India (see the story at right).

UNSW school of education Professor Chris Davison said anyone considering a career in business would have a competitive edge by being fluent in Mandarin, the most widely spoken language in the world.

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