SCHOOLS that support the federal government’s plan to get students interested in Asian languages say “time and money” will determine its success.

The government wants children to better understand Asian culture by giving them greater access to job-skill development.

The Australia in the Asian Century White Paper aims to give students more exposure to Asian studies across the curriculum.

It means students will get the chance to learn an Asian language as soon as they start primary school.

Priority languages include Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian and Japanese.

In NSW, students must study at least 100 hours of a language in year 7 or 8.

Cronulla High School has taught Japanese for the past 16 years.

Language co-ordinator Cassie Callander said that the government’s plan was a huge exercise.

“If it wants to offer languages continuously, this means we need to get an interactive program going with surrounding primary schools,” she said.

“This requires a massive amount of money. And we can’t run a class if we don’t have the numbers.”

She said maintaining student engagement was crucial. The school received a $20,000 grant as part of the National Asian Languages and Studies in Schools program.

Teachers bought iPads, language apps, and an Apple television to make language more fun.

“We had to do something to address a drop in elective numbers,” Mrs Callander said.

“They have 16 electives to choose from, so we have to keep it exciting.”

But she said that apart from a few students who considered careers in business as translators or overseas teachers, not many used Japanese after they graduated.

“There is value in learning a second language.”


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