Asian languages....

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little_ripper
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Asian languages....

Post by little_ripper » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:43 am

don't get me wrong, I love learning and getting any new knowledge is great. And for language, I currently just started studying one in my spare time for fun. But do you reckon the gillard government is going a bit OTT with its emphasis on learning an asian language?(ie the every child should learn either hindi, indo, japanese or mandarin)

correct me if I am wrong on the following(I hope that I can be corrected by someone on this...because it has me scratching my head).

for starters, from what I understand very few asians speak a second asian language(eg Japanese knowing Mandarin, or Indonesion speaking Thai etc etc).

In fact if anything they are probably more likely to speak English(or French) instead of another asian language. Asia is not like Europe where most Europeans(western) speak multiple languages from neighbouring countries. (again is this a massive over assumption)

Second, unlike learning a latin or germanic european language, it is a lot more difficult for an english speaker to learn and speak fluently an asian language.(particularly without the benefit of immersion). Wildly different phonetics, grammar and of course characters.

Don't you think it would be much better if education resources were spent on focussing on say Science and Maths(which Australia is woeful on by world standards)? I mean the world is continually pushing towards one international language and thankfully I think that is still and will be English.

How many out there of you learnt a second language at school and could engage in a basic business conversation in it?

Would Australian kids be better served learning a language that is a little more similar to English to tap into opportunities outside of Asia.(given we already do plenty of business and pleasure with Asian countries)?

I find it kind of bemusing the attitude that Australia must be so intertwined with Asia simply on geographic grounds. The worlds a global place, we can easily interact with people in say Brazil, Germany, Spain as much as Indonesia or Japan. Large Australian companies have interests in the Americas, Africa as well as Asia.

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BenDoolan
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Re: Asian languages....

Post by BenDoolan » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:54 pm

I speak Springvalian
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swoodley
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Re: Asian languages....

Post by swoodley » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:03 pm

I think a lot of the push for a 2nd language (and particularly an Asian language) is based on the expectation that the Asian Region will become the dominant economic area over the coming years and so it will help us as a nation if we have people who can readily interact with businesses in the Asian Sphere.

Whether or not the people we will be doing business with speak English is irrelevant and that type of attitude should be a thing of the past.

I know from experience traveling through non-English speaking countries that you get a far warmer welcome if you at least try and converse in the local language.
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billyduckworth
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Re: Asian languages....

Post by billyduckworth » Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:32 pm

little_ripper wrote:correct me if I am wrong on the following(I hope that I can be corrected by someone on this...because it has me scratching my head).

for starters, from what I understand very few asians speak a second asian language(eg Japanese knowing Mandarin, or Indonesion speaking Thai etc etc).

In fact if anything they are probably more likely to speak English(or French) instead of another asian language. Asia is not like Europe where most Europeans(western) speak multiple languages from neighbouring countries. (again is this a massive over assumption)

Second, unlike learning a latin or germanic european language, it is a lot more difficult for an english speaker to learn and speak fluently an asian language.(particularly without the benefit of immersion). Wildly different phonetics, grammar and of course characters.

Don't you think it would be much better if education resources were spent on focussing on say Science and Maths(which Australia is woeful on by world standards)? I mean the world is continually pushing towards one international language and thankfully I think that is still and will be English.

How many out there of you learnt a second language at school and could engage in a basic business conversation in it?

Would Australian kids be better served learning a language that is a little more similar to English to tap into opportunities outside of Asia.(given we already do plenty of business and pleasure with Asian countries)?

I find it kind of bemusing the attitude that Australia must be so intertwined with Asia simply on geographic grounds. The worlds a global place, we can easily interact with people in say Brazil, Germany, Spain as much as Indonesia or Japan. Large Australian companies have interests in the Americas, Africa as well as Asia.
Some of your assumptions have some validity but others are a bit far off the mark.
Before I go any further, better admit my biases/experience; I learnt Chinese at school and I am able to converse in it on just about any topic.

(1) "Very few Asians speak a second Asian language". Probably largely true, though a fair number of Chinese learn Japanese and vice versa. Not sure how this is relevant anyway.

(2) "A lot more difficult to learn." A very common misconception. Basically not true. All languages have their difficult points (in English, for example, it's inconsistent spelling and grammar). Chinese does have characters, which are harder to remember than an alphabet, but on the other hand its grammar is 100 times easier and more consistent than English or any other European language. In other words, I'm not saying Chinese is easy, but then again it isn't prohibitively difficult as many people seem to think.

(3) "Australia is woeful on Maths & Science by world standards". Hardly true. We scored more lowly than Finland, South Korea and a few other places, but way in front of England or the USA or New Zealand for that matter.

(4) "Intertwined with Asia simply on geographic lines". An odd statement. Not sure what your point is. We are geographically close to Asia, so why not be intertwined with them? Anyway, arguably more important than geography, is economics. China, Japan and South Korea are three of our major trade partners. By comparison, we do bugger all trade with Europe and haven't basically since World War Two.

my two fen worth (Chinese word for cent for those of you who can't guess)

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Re: Asian languages....

Post by Sismis » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:56 pm

I think getting more people learning a second language is a fantastic idea. I guess on economic grounds learning Chinese, Indian and Japanese makes sense, but you could argue German and Russian on the same basis.

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Re: Asian languages....

Post by dom_105 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:52 pm

It's hard to know what to make of this.

I think it would be of great assistance for Australians in general to gain a better understanding of Asian culture and how they do business.

Language is of course fine as well, but how many students finish their studies with a knowledge of a second language sufficent enough to conduct business or have extended communications with a native speaker of that language. I think that the success rate would be pretty low. But I can only speak from my personal experience.

There will always be speakers of the languages of our top trading partners, for the simple fact is that our top trading partners also seem to be the source of a great deal of immigrants. And those children of new arrivals, those with an exposure to the language in question and can immerse themselves in the language in the home environment are not too far away from speaking a second language without any Government support or intervention.

Between 10% to 30% of households in capital cities in this country speak a second language at home. A fair proportion of that is Italian and Greek but that is declining (for one obvious and sad reason). But nearly half a million households speak Cantonese or Mandarin, 200k speak Vietnamese and 70k speak Hindi, and those languages are growing significantly.

Most of the work growing the rate of Australians speaking a second language will take place more in those households as opposed to in a classroom.

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Re: Asian languages....

Post by little_ripper » Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:08 am

Thanks billyduckworth.

My understanding of asian languages doesn't go much past a phrasebook.

My point that you addressed last is that perhaps australias trade is already well established with asia.
Ie whilst not ignoring large trading partners completely what about looking for opportunities in other expanding markets?

Offbase?


I would love for kids and any australian for that matter to pick up more languages.(a second language will get you further than an MBA in business today imo). Its something that'll be taught at home in my house.

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Re: Asian languages....

Post by j-mac31 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 1:49 pm

Sismis wrote:I think getting more people learning a second language is a fantastic idea. I guess on economic grounds learning Chinese, Indian and Japanese makes sense, but you could argue German and Russian on the same basis.
This.

I'm sure it's good for the overall education of a kid, even if they don't go through with it at VCE or equivalent level.

As for people in Asian countries learning other languages, there was a letter in The Age today from someone who taught/teaches in China and Singapore I think, where they definitely teach other Asian languages as well as English.
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billyduckworth
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Re: Asian languages....

Post by billyduckworth » Fri Nov 02, 2012 8:55 am

dom_105 wrote:It's hard to know what to make of this.

I think it would be of great assistance for Australians in general to gain a better understanding of Asian culture and how they do business.

Language is of course fine as well, but how many students finish their studies with a knowledge of a second language sufficent enough to conduct business or have extended communications with a native speaker of that language. I think that the success rate would be pretty low. But I can only speak from my personal experience.

There will always be speakers of the languages of our top trading partners, for the simple fact is that our top trading partners also seem to be the source of a great deal of immigrants. And those children of new arrivals, those with an exposure to the language in question and can immerse themselves in the language in the home environment are not too far away from speaking a second language without any Government support or intervention.

Between 10% to 30% of households in capital cities in this country speak a second language at home. A fair proportion of that is Italian and Greek but that is declining (for one obvious and sad reason). But nearly half a million households speak Cantonese or Mandarin, 200k speak Vietnamese and 70k speak Hindi, and those languages are growing significantly.

Most of the work growing the rate of Australians speaking a second language will take place more in those households as opposed to in a classroom.

Interesting point, Dom. This has certainly happened with Chinese. When I did it in Year 12 (way back in 1978), 90% or more of the students were Aussies with no connection to China (like me). Now it's the reverse - more than 90% of students in Year 12 who take Chinese come from a Chinese background.

I'm never sure whether to see this is a positive or not. On the one hand, our immigrant communities are a great resource and we as a nation benefit greatly from this. On the other hand, it gives lazy Aussies an excuse to sit back and not bother with any language learning, claiming that "all business people in Asia speak English anyway" (a huge myth) or just leaving it to the immigrant community here.

I guess in the end it all comes down to isolation. Because we are so isolated as a country, we don't really see the point in learning languages and we don't have the opportunity to practise them enough (unless we are part of an immigrant community). The complete reverse is true in Europe, where you can drive one or two hours and reach another country with a different language, so the motivation and the opportunity factors are both high.

My two pfennig worth (yes, I did German at school too!!)

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Re: Asian languages....

Post by robrulz5 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:52 am

We did Indonesian in year 7 but it was an elective after that which no one did.

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Re: Asian languages....

Post by robrulz5 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:53 am

BenDoolan wrote:I speak Springvalian
Being from Endeavour Hills we aren't far away from that area so we do venture there from time to time. Interesting place.

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Re: Asian languages....

Post by Western Red » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:48 pm

Learning another language is a good thing - be it Asian or European - as it is not a matter of being fluent it is more of a matter that you have taken the time to "try" to get the basics and you are willing to use them. I have passable Spanish (after 4 years in South America) and started my first French lessons yesterday and what I find, and as Swoods mentioned, is that you get much more respect and warmth from people if you at least try to use the local language. The worst thing is people who believe that speaking louder actually helps people who don't speak English understand you (Yanks do this as did my mother in law) it is embarrassing and pointless.

The economic ties between Australia and Asia are whats driving the decision to go this direction in the schools etc but don't kid yourselves - business will be done in English 9 times out of 10 - but if you have some of the basics then you can extend your relationships and often get an advantage by being able to socialize with business people outside of the actual negotiations.

So whatever the reasons be it for travel or work its a good idea to have the basics with you. It certainly helps with travel as it can often be the difference between getting ripped off or getting off the tourist track and seeing some more interesting things..

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Re: Asian languages....

Post by JockStraps » Tue Nov 20, 2012 1:42 pm

Having spent most of my life working in Asian countries let me assure you that the language of business is English. Even if one or two dumb Aussies managed to learn a few words of Mandarin they are only likely to butcher the language. Additionally, it doesn't help if only one or two foreigners spoke the Asian language in question if the rest in a meeting don't and that's why everyone reverts to English. Its either the Mother tongue or at worst the second language of most of the world.

I know the French wont like this but thats the way "Le Cookie Has Le Crumbled non?".

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