The value of learning another language

19 Aug, 2016
School of Language and Culture senior lecturer Dallas Nesbitt

A new book co-edited by School of Language and Culture senior lecturer Dallas Nesbitt gives unprecedented insight into issues and strategies around Japanese language learning in New Zealand at tertiary level.

Creating New Synergies: Approaches of Tertiary Japanese Programmes in New Zealand is the first book to be published on Japanese language teaching in New Zealand universities and tertiary institutions.

Co-edited by Dallas Nesbitt from AUT University, Dr Penny Shino from Massey University and Dr Masayoshi Ogino from the University of Canterbury, it is a compilation of in-depth research into how the teaching of Japanese in the New Zealand tertiary sector is successfully adapting within a rapidly-changing and challenging learning environment.

Although Japan remains steady as New Zealand’s fourth-largest trading partner, the number of secondary school and tertiary students learning the language has been dropping since the highs of the late 1980s and 90s through the era of Japan’s ‘bubble economy’.

In the decade between 2005 and 2015 tertiary enrolments dropped by 48 per cent, and the decreasing number of Japanese language learners meant a reduction in courses offered. There is also competition from other languages being offered, especially Mandarin and Spanish.

Dallas Nesbitt says New Zealand lacks a national language policy, which makes it difficult to prioritise additional language learning in a busy curriculum. And even though ‘Learning Languages’ is a curriculum area, unlike other areas it is not compulsory.

“The secondary and tertiary sectors are strongly united but cannot hope to educate New Zealanders for a global world without sound long-term national policies being put in place,” Ms Nesbitt says.

The authors highlight that learning another language helps people develop a range of skills which add value to any career, including creativity, communication, interpersonal skills, flexibility and adaptability, self-awareness and confidence, and being attuned to diversity.

Creating New Synergies: Approaches to Tertiary Japanese Programmes in New Zealand is published by Massey University Press. To purchase the book, visit the website here.

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