FORTY per cent of Colac’s Year 12 students would study a foreign language within 10 years under a Liberal Party plan.
But Colac secondary school principals say the Federal Coalition’s proposal would be a challenge to achieve.
Liberal Senator for Victoria Michael Ronaldson said students in the Corangamite electorate should start learning “the languages of rising Asian trading partners such as China, Korea and Japan from an early age”.
“Knowing the languages of our trading partners is a key to unlocking the potential of the Asian century for Australia,” Mr Ronaldson said.
“The proportion of Year 12 students studying a foreign language has dropped from about 40 per cent in the 1960s to about 12 per cent today.” Mr Ronaldson said he wanted “40 per cent of all Year 12 students in Corangamite and across Australia studying a foreign language” within a decade.
Colac Secondary College principal Tim O’Farrell said there would need to be a “cultural shift” to achieve a high rate of students studying a foreign language.
“I would imagine if it’s being talked about being started in preschool, there needs to be a cultural shift in our society in what languages can be provided,” Mr O’Farrell said.
“It’s not something that could occur in the short term, it would have to be a long term goal.
“Over recent years we’ve had an increase in students taking those subjects.
“However it’s still only a small percentage of students, less than five per cent,” he said.
“It would be a big challenge to get to 40 per cent.”
Colac Secondary College acting-principal Simon Dewar said he could see the importance of multi-lingual people but schools would need more resources.
“I think Senator Ronaldson’s idea has merit, there is research to support the educational benefits for students who study a second language,” Mr Dewar
“We are living in a global world where Asian links will be a significant part of our future.
“To ensure that the initiative was successful you would certainly need funding resources combined with the up-skilling and employment of specialist teachers,” he said.
Trinity College offers Indonesian studies while Colac Secondary College offers French as a second language.