Teacher journal archive (2008-2011)

Article Title

Languages are important : but that's not why I'm studying one


What prompts secondary students to continue or discontinue language study once it's no longer compulsory? Language education in Australia tends to be influenced by strong political trends, but despite the many attempts by governments to increase student numbers in language programs through a range of policies over the years, student enrolments and retention rates in contexts where languages are not compulsory remain a challenge. Against this background of constantly shifting policy agendas for languages education, it is worth considering what students themselves are saying about languages and how this is reflected in what they are actually doing when it comes to taking a language at school. The authors outline their 2007 study into what 57 South Australian students reported as being their reasons for continuing or discontinuing language studies once it was no longer compulsory, as well as what these students claimed about the importance or otherwise of knowing more than one language. The article describes the study methodology and outcomes, then briefly analyses the results, concluding with some key messages that may be usefully considered by language teachers. [Author abstract, ed]

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