An online magazine of news and opinions from the Asia New Zealand Foundation

Foundation backs bill to strengthen language learning in schools

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

The Foundation's director education Jeff Johnstone talks to Jessie Mulligan from TV3's The Project about foreign language learning in New Zealand 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 New Zealand, says Asia New Zealand Foundation education director Jeff Johnstone.

The absence of a national policy on languages is concerning, he says.

“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 know more than one language."

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

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

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

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

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.

Media contact:

Janryll Fernandez
Senior Communications Adviser
027 517 3259

15 January 2018