Release type: Media Release


Rudd Government supports languages education in schools


The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for Social Inclusion
Deputy Prime Minister

The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, today announced funding of $46,000 through the School Languages Program (SLP), to extend and update the 2005-2008 National Statement and Plan for Languages Education in Australian Schools.

The Rudd Government has also approved SLP funding of almost $20,000 for Principals Australia to further develop their highly regardedLeading Languageseducation resource, which provides support for languages education in schools.

Together with the new National Curriculum being developed for languages and the significant new investment in Asian languages, this funding will help to ensure more Australian students graduate high school proficient in a second language

All Australian governments have agreed to a target of at least 12 per cent of students completing Year 12 fluent in the languages of our key Asian neighbours – China, Indonesia, Japan and Korea – by 2020.

As part of the Education Revolution, the Rudd Government is determined to ensure that Australian students have the language skills necessary to engage in trade, commerce and further study in the future.

The National Statement and Plan provides an overarching framework and long-term directions for languages education in Australian schools.

In 2009, Education Ministers decided to extend the National Plan till 2012 and update it to help meet the future needs of the nation.

The University of South Australia will be updating the National Plan on behalf of the Australian Government.

This is just one of the projects the Government is investing in to strengthen the study of languages in schools. Other Australian Government support for language literacy includes:

  • $62.4 million, over the four financial years to 2012, for the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools Program (NALSSP).
  • $56.4 million from 2009 to 2012, through the Schools Assistance Act 2008, to support the teaching of languages in non-government schools.
  • Significant funding for states and territories for languages education in government schools, under the 2009 to 2012National Education Agreement.
  • Construction of 179 language learning centres and 78 dual language/science centres in secondary schools around the country, to promote the study of languages, through theBuilding the Education Revolution.
  • $14.9 million to establish a new scholarship scheme - the Prime Minister’s Australia-Asia Endeavour Awards. These scholarships will allow the recipients to undertake one year of study in Asia, which can be followed by an internship or work placement in Asia.
  • $2.1 million a year for the Endeavour Language Teacher Fellowships, as part of the Government’s broader Endeavour Awards. The Fellowships provide intensive professional learning for practising and trainee languages teachers to increase language proficiency.
  • $6.3 million from 2008-09 to 2011-12 to the Australian Education Foundation (AEF) to support Asian studies in schools.
  • $1.2 million to the AEF to enhance partnerships between schools and businesses to promote Asia literacy in secondary schools.

Currently, less than 14 per cent of Australian year 12 students are studying a foreign language and only 5.8 per cent are studying an Asian language in Year 12.

The Rudd Government considers learning languages other than English, in particular Asian languages, very important to Australia’s future security and prosperity in an increasingly globalised world.