Why is there a need for UNE's Asian Languages Accreditation Program?
The study of Asian languages in schools has declined at an alarming rate since 2000. The decline in teachers of Indonesian, for example, has seen a loss of 10,000 students per year (The Current State of Indonesian Language Education in Schools p.46) while Japanese, the most popular Asian language, has experienced a decline of 16% in overall students since 2000, with the decline most severe in NSW at 43% (The Current State of Japanese Language Education in Schools p.5). The number of schools enrolling students in Japanese has fallen by 15.6% with strong rates of attrition when the language becomes an elective choice from years 9, 10 and 11.
Fifteen years ago, 70% of students enrolled in tertiary language departments had undertaken HSC language study; now these rates are as low as 20-30% (Bernard Lane, The Australian, 21 April 2010). There currently exists a sense of urgency about the need to develop both short term and longer-term strategies to restore Asian language learning if we are to be a nation with a demonstrated capacity to understand, appreciate and communicate effectively with our Asian neighbours. The Asian Languages Accreditation Program targets both short term and longer-term strategies by utilizing the existing expertise of UNE as a 5-Star university with over 50 years’ experience in distance education and sustained excellence in the delivery of language education to deliver high quality, flexible, online study to ALAP Teacher Students who would be otherwise disadvantaged by geographical circumstances, family and/or employment commitments.
The Asian Languages Accreditation Program provides immediate access to language training for existing teachers and thus works to restore the teaching of Asian languages to secondary students. The Asian Languages Accreditation Program is ideally situated to strengthen the Asian languages teaching profession by targeting ALAP Teachers’ needs for language proficiency and languages education pedagogy training. The project provides dedicated virtual classrooms for ALAP Teachers who will also be encouraged to develop a personal professional e-portfolio on the site where a range of artifacts can be collected and stored for the ALAP Teachers’ future use with students. Opportunities to road-test teaching resources with their own students are facilitated in the virtual classroom, thus expanding the mentoring available through their own training. The virtual classroom provides a support network for the life of the program to ALAP Teachers, thus overcoming many of the problems of isolation that are specific to teachers of Asian languages.
Existing rationales for teaching Asian languages are failing to convince students to learn languages (The Current State of Indonesian Language Education in Schools p.44). By providing Asian language training alongside cultural study units, we are encouraging ALAP Teachers to go beyond the normal experience of complacent ethnocentric thinking and to stimulate appreciation of the richness and aesthetic appeal of the otherness of languages and cultures. Such appreciation of both culture and language, as well as a strongly developed understanding of the ways that language learning exposes us to how a language functions in relation to the world, not only develops language skills, but also stimulates appreciation of difference of the other and the different ways that people organize themselves and value things in the world.
The Asian Language Accreditation Program provides a training environment that exposes the ALAP Teacher to up to date resources and exemplary pedagogy including the use of the e-portfolio where language training resources, reflective process tools and assessment methods can be stored to be used by the teacher in their own classrooms. These methods encourage and support lifelong learning as well as creating a rich resource for the differentiated teaching of students who have different backgrounds and abilities. ALAP Teachers will be trained to use current information communications technologies innovatively and effectively and to integrate these into lesson planning, thus meeting the need for teachers to adjust to the changing demands of language teaching.
UNE’s established expertise in the delivery of Asian language education and experience in distance education ensures the program will have an Australia-wide impact reaching rural and regional areas.