Learning Chinese in Australia - with Tom Shugg

Guest: Tom Shugg, Director and Co-Founder, My Education Group

Host: Simone van Nieuwenhuizen, Project and Research Officer, Australia-China Relations Institute (ACRI), University of Technology Sydney

As Australia’s relationship with China expands, improved China literacy and a grasp of the Chinese language are becoming increasingly important. Despite this, studies indicate the numbers of fluent non-native speakers and learners of Chinese at all stages of education remain low.

Why aren’t more students taking up the challenge of learning Chinese and achieving fluency? What can be done to encourage students to begin and continue their study of Chinese? Does Australia face unique difficulties?

Tom Shugg joins Simone van Nieuwenhuizen to discuss the future of Chinese language teaching and learning in Australia.

Students of Chinese in the United States and United Kingdom face similar challenges to those in Australia. These include lack of access to language teachers, cost, and the difficulty of developing engaging education programs that address students’ needs and interests.

There is an increasing global recognition of the importance of learning Chinese. In the US, this awareness was heightened by President Donald Trump’s recent visit to China. For the UK, the Brexit movement has encouraged stronger engagement with China.

In-country experience is essential to achieving fluency. However, it should be paired with frameworks to support long-term language learning.

Technology could be utilised more effectively in language programs in Australian schools. Online learning systems could alleviate the challenge of sourcing and retaining qualified language teachers, and could bring language education to remote areas that would not otherwise have access to Chinese language programs.

Theme music by Sam J Mitchell.

March 01 2018