research / Research reports

Building Chinese Language Capacity in Australia

April 20 2016

A report commissioned by the Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI), written by Dr Jane Orton, reveals the lack of Australian students enrolling in Chinese language study.

- Since 2008 the number of students learning Chinese in Australian schools has doubled to 172,832 – this is 4.7 percent of total school student numbers.

- There has been an overall drop over the past eight years of some 20 percent in the number of non-background classroom learners taking Chinese to around just 400.

- By Year 12 only 4,149 (2.4 percent of the Chinese learners, 0.1 percent of the total student cohort) are still studying Chinese.

- More than half of those who begin Chinese in primary do not continue it in secondary if they have a choice to opt out.

- Half of all students of Chinese live in Victoria. In 2012 Victoria mandated language study from Foundation to Year 10 which has doubled the number of primary learners of Chinese there in the last two years. This growth accounts for 25 percent of the total increase in Chinese learners nationally since 2008.

Author: Jane Orton, Honorary Fellow and consultant to immersion Chinese language programs, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne.

To read the full report please download the PDF.