CIS on Australia’s Asia Literacy Non-Problem

There is a great new paper from the Centre for Independent Studies that challenges concerns about our ability to communicate with our Asian neighbours, and hence in part questions the usefulness of the job the PM gave Ken Henry to investigate opportunities and challenges for Australia in responding to the Asian century.

Australia’s Asia Literacy Non-Problem

Key points from the paper are:

  • Australia’s language education policies: The most populous states and territories already teach LOTE, including key Asian languages, on a compulsory basis at some levels of schooling.
  • English is the pre-eminent world language: With approximately 2 billion speakers globally, English remains the world’s lingua franca and the language of globalisation.
  • English is an Asian language: English is spoken by about 800 million people in Asia and is widely used as an official language in the region.
  • Australia speaks the languages of Asia: Australia’s multicultural composition means there are 2.2 million or so speakers of Asian languages in Australia, including approximately 650,000 speakers of Chinese languages.
  • Asian cultural literacy acquisition by osmosis: With extensive interaction between diverse groups, Asian cultural literacy is being naturally spread throughout Australian society.
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