Genric Holiday Post (a Bit of Best of, a bit of Christmas Books)

Emma Comerford emmaco at tpg.com.au
Fri Jan 2 17:37:45 EST 2004


At 12:05 PM 2/01/2004 -0800, you wrote:

>--- Sally Odgers <sodgers at tassie.net.au> wrote:
>
> >
> > Jon, would you say we're one of the worse peoples
> > for speaking one language
> > only?
> > Sallyo.
>
>Quite certainly, although (in NSW at least) it is
>compulsory to learn a language for at least two years
>in high school, this is only for about 1 hour a week.
>After that students can elect to study a language, but
>very few do. What language students do learn (Japanese
>in the main these days - French or German when I was
>at school) is usually forgotten soon after. I have one
>friend who has taught himself French, Spanish,
>Portugese, Catalan and Afrikaans well enough to
>converse with native speakers plus enough Dutch,
>German and Italian to get by on but this is very rare.
>I have another friend who speaks Russian, Polish,
>French, German, Spanish, Hebrew and Yiddish (and is
>now learning Arabic) be she grew up with most of those
>languages in a very confusing early life being bundled
>around Europe before settling in Argentina.
>On the whole I suspect that native English speakers
>are the most linguisticly insular in the world,
>believing that foreigners should learn English, and
>that Australians in particular are the worst of the
>lot.
>
>Jon (who forgets all the German he learnt 35 years
>ago)

Although we also have a lot of people who speak a second language courtesy 
of their immigrant parents - over half of my Italian class at high school 
spoke Italian, much to the dismay of my teacher, who wasn't completely 
fluent! (Actually, this is a scary aspect of languages other than English 
teaching in Australia, you don't have to be fluent to teach, as 
demonstrated by my Italian and Japanese teachers at school (although they 
were good teachers apart from that). And if I had done education I could 
teach Spanish as I majored in it at uni, even though I'm not fluent!) 
Before that long aside, I was going to say that Queensland primary schools 
all teach at least one LOTE, and we've always been encouraged to think it 
polite to learn another language, especially before travelling. So maybe 
it's changing?  

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