Language Policy Education Australia
|Author: D. E. Ingram|
|From the early 1980s to 1996, Australia probably led the English-speaking world in systematic language policy-making.|
|Prior to that period, as in most English-speaking countries, there had been no serious attempt to systematically address language issues. When language issues had been considered, only really in the context of education or immigration, they were piecemeal, responding to isolated areas of need or driven by a vague traditional notion of some intellectual or literary value in the study of another language.
Traditionally, Australians had seen themselves as belonging to a British outpost in the South Pacific with family, political and trading links predominantly with Europe and North America. It was largely assumed that English was the national and only necessary language and that it was sufficient for international communication purposes, especially since most of Australias international links at that time were with English-speaking countries.
Within schools, language education was based around English as the mother tongue together with some teaching of French, German and the classical languages of Latin and ancient Greek. Even after a large-scale immigration programme was commenced (a programme that still continues fifty years on), not only was English regarded as sufficient but migrants were strongly encouraged to learn English and, until the early 1970s, to stop using their own first languages.
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