The government has devised the Languages Action Plan which aims to guarantee an increase in language studies in schools across the state over the next three years.
Education Minister and Vice Premier of Victoria, Joan Kirner, and Minister for Ethnic Affairs, Andrew McCutcheon, presented the initiative on May 10 at Brunswick North Primary School’s Ethnic Resources Centre.
This year, 70 new teachers will be hired, 20 of whom will teach languages other than English, broken down according to the needs of individual schools (15 in primary and/or secondary schools).
The number of “advisors” will also increase to eight for ethnic languages.
These people will offer “technical” advice on teaching methods.
More time will also be dedicated to professional training for teachers, while translation and interpreting services will be improved.
Ms Kirner said that, in a multicultural society like Australia, all young people should take advantage of the opportunity to become bilingual, if not multilingual.
She added that there are many good reasons to learn other languages, such as: the preservation of one’s cultural heritage; greater intellectual, emotional and social maturity; and increased career opportunities.
Minister McCutcheon said the Languages Action Plan plays an important role in the promotion of multiculturalism in Australia.
The plan was drafted by Joseph Lo Bianco, political advisor to the Minister for Employment, Education and Training, John Dawkins.
Mr Lo Bianco is considered an “authority” is this field, having published numerous texts on the subject and spoken at national conventions.
According to Mr Lo Bianco, the major challenge for Italian studies is creating greater awareness and promoting Italian as a “language for commercial use”.
“Students are guided to choose languages that provide career opportunities,” he said.
“Therefore, it is necessary to enhance the fact that studying Italian can pave the way to professional success.”