WHEN I was in high school more than 20 years ago, the only foreign language options we had to choose from were French and German.
That was pretty standard. Now it seems outdated.
As our multicultural society has expanded, there are many languages students can choose from to do for the HSC, whether in the classroom, or externally.
My husband has always said he wants our son to learn Mandarin from a young age.
I remember how impressed I was we had elected a prime minister who spoke fluent Mandarin (Kevin Rudd).
We need this connection with our Asian neighbours.
As part of launching the white paper Australia in the Asian Century, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced every school will be made to teach at least one priority Asian language under a national Asian studies curriculum.
The white paper recommends every child must have the opportunity to learn one of Mandarin, Hindi, Japanese or Indonesian and every school must be linked to a school in Asia to support the teaching process.
This is part of a comprehensive embrace of the region.
‘‘Success for an open Australia in a middle-class Asia starts in the classrooms, training centres and lecture theatres in our nation,’’ Ms Gillard said.
And I couldn’t agree more.
We do need to tap into Asia’s rising middle class wealth by 2025, well beyond Australia’s present reliance on minerals.
This is the way of the future, in every department. And we can’t ignore it.