Any Australian hoping to acquire a sustained career in Asian region will have an advantage if one can communicate to the locals in their own language. Even with professionals who want to work in Asia, what matters is not just what they know but also how well they can communicate with their colleagues and other people; otherwise their careers will be limited if they cannot communicate in the local language.
Gil provides an overview of a report titled Building an Asia-Literate Australia: An Australian Strategy for Asian Language Proficiency. The report argues that given the political importance and the economic growth in the Asia region, coupled with increased involvement between Asian countries and Australia, proficiency in Australian cultures and languages would be beneficial to Australia. Gil’s observation is that the report has elicited debate with people opposing the suggestions to teach Asian languages and cultures in large scale.
Gil responds to arguments that have been put forward against incorporating Asian literature and cultures in Australia. He opines that considering various pragmatic and theoretical works suggest considerable danger in arguing against incorporating Asian languages and cultures on the basis that “English is a global language”. To Gil, such argument exaggerates the extent to which English is used in Asia and that it also misinterprets the possible effects of further spread of the English language (Gil, 2010).
Henderson examines the national effort to establish Asian languages by considering a 1992 report by the Council of Australian Governments titled Asian Languages and Australia’s Economic Future. He perceives the report as an exceptional policy attempt to teach Asian cultures and languages. He however, notes that the government was noncommittal as shown by its decision to cut funding for a long-term strategic plan.
Henderson perceives the development of language skills as an integral part towards attaining national capacity building. He concludes that the termination of the funding of the implementation of the Rudd Report was myopic and significantly impacts the capacity of Australia to engage with other states within the regional. He proposes the use of political power to determine the knowledge that would be of national interest (Henderson, 2007).
Gil and Henderson’s points of departure stem from two different reports regarding the importance of establishing Asian culture and languages study policy in Australia. Accordingly, it is apparent that they both advocate for the establishment of strategies that would incorporate the Asian languages and culture in Australia. They note that the rise of the Asian region as an economic hub, coupled with an increase in the economic engagements with countries within the region, necessitates a better understanding of the Asian culture for future economic purposes. In a nut shell, better communication translates to better working relations.
Each of the two arguments is convincing in its own right. However, Gil’s argument is more convincing because it is brief and to the point. Gil’s argument also definitive since it takes a broader perspective of the economic engagements as compared to Henderson’s argument that concentrates on the lack of funding of the implementation of a report.
Gil, J. (2010). The Double Danger of English as a Global Language. English Today 101.
Cambridge University Press.
Henderson, D. (2007). A Strategy cut-short: The NALSAS Strategy for Asian languages in
Australia. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 4 (1), pp. 4-22.