An alien from their own language: The case of Japanese in New South Wales

Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Babel, 2010, 44 (2), pp. 22 - 31
Issue Date:
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In late 2008, the Australian Government announced funding for a national collaborative project to develop a curriculum framework for courses of study in Chinese (Mandarin Mandarin (ma(n`d?ri(n) [Port. mandar=to govern, or from Malay mantri=counselor of state], a high official of imperial China. For each of the nine grades there was a different colored button worn on the dress cap. ), Indonesian, Japanese, and Korean for 'heritage speakers' of these languages at the senior secondary school level. This article examines some of the issues surrounding this development, investigating one of these languages (Japanese) as a case study. Drawing on previous research, it explores who might be considered a 'heritage' speaker/learner in the Australian secondary school context, how extensive this subgroup sub·group n. 1. A distinct group within a group; a subdivision of a group. 2. A subordinate group. 3. Mathematics A group that is a subset of a group. tr.v. ..... Click the link for more information. of learners of Japanese is in the community of New South Wales New South Wales, state (1991 pop. 5,164,549), 309,443 sq mi (801,457 sq km), SE Australia. It is bounded on the E by the Pacific Ocean. Sydney is the capital. The other principal urban centers are Newcastle, Wagga Wagga, Lismore, Wollongong, and Broken Hill. , and what courses of language study these students are currently undertaking at the senior secondary level. The project collected data through interviews with schoolteachers experienced in teaching 'heritage' speakers of Japanese. These teachers' voices provide informed perceptions of how appropriate the current offering of language courses at senior secondary level for 'heritage' language learners is. The article concludes with a discussion of some of the challenges which lie ahead in the teaching of heritage language courses.
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