Friday 10 Apr 2020 | 01:09 | SYDNEY
Friday 10 Apr 2020 | 01:09 | SYDNEY

Too many toungues, too few dollars


Malcolm Cook

23 May 2008 10:23

Reading the blog discussion on improving Australia’s Asian languages curriculae, one thing struck me. David Goodman’s positive comparison about Mandarin capability in multi-lingual China is the wrong one. Rather, a better comparison would be how much money Asian societies not colonized by either the British or Americans have poured into learning English (just one language with a world-wide exposure) and how poor the overall outcomes from this huge, generations-long, expenditure have been. According to Japan’s Ministry of Education, Trade and Industry, in 2005 alone, teaching English as a second language outside the school system was a $2 billion industry. This more accurate comparison simply adds weight to Scheherazade’s worries about whether $62.4 million over 3 years will be able to make any noticeable difference, and about the large number of Asian languages. See here for a snapshot of just how many languages are spoken just in the 7107 islands of the Philippines.