Understanding English for Chinese Australians
Why Australians Are Learning Chinese
Since the beginning of the 1th century, the Chinese have been a key part of Australian history. Once primarily migrant workers, today the Chinese play an array of roles in Australian government, business and education as well as throughout Australian society. As China’s economy grows and the relationship between China and Australia gains greater focus, the Chinese language in Australia is also gaining importance.
Recently, an important meeting related to the growing significance of the Chinese language in Australia issue, took place in Canberra. The Chinese Vice Minister of Education, Du Yubo and the Australian Associate Secretary for Tertiary Education, Robert Griew discussed some goals the two education sectors of each country were cooperatively reaching for. One such goal is expanding the teaching of Chinese to Australian students. It is anticipated that in the near future, more Chinese classes will be made available to Australian students in elementary and high schools. The strategy is expected to have a positive influence on relations between the two countries in industries such as automotive (car makers), mining, tertiary education and health.
Learning Chinese is an ambitious effort. Chinese is a tonal language. When one’s voice rises and falls while pronouncing a word, the pitch at which the word is spoken can influence the meaning being expressed. Parts of speech are ordered differently within a Chinese sentence than in an English one. There are also about 2,500 characters that are generally used in everyday writing — so it takes more time and patience to master than languages such as German, Spanish and French that have traditionally been a part of Western curricula. At least 2200 hours of Chinese study are required for a non-native speaker to become functional in Chinese. There are a wide range of aspects though, that determine how well and quickly one will adopt the language. The teaching methods and materials available to Australian students should be carefully chosen for their effectiveness so the goals being created by Griew and others in the Australian government are attainable.
China and Australia are critical international trade partners. Chinese tourism is a big part of the Australian economy and Chinese cars and automobiles continue to increase their vehicle numbers on Australian roads.. Every year, thousands of Chinese students attend Australian universities. These are just some of the examples of why Australia has such a strong incentive to improve its Asia literacy. For Australians to be literate in Asia, however, they will not just have to pursue fluency in Chinese, but get to know the culture — which means exploring the differences as well as similarities.
This post was brought to you by Private Fleet, Australia’s leading car buying service and advocate for Australian-Chinese relations.