Last Sunday I heard an interview with Peter Garrett, the Minister for Education.
If I recall correctly, it was the minister who announced recently that all Australian students must be above the average.
The minister was preaching the prime minister's Asian Plan and endeavouring to explain how Asian languages must be mandatory in primary and secondary schools.
He was presenting this proposal as though it was a modern-day renaissance.
In so doing, he failed to appreciate that many schools and tertiary institutions already teach Asian languages and have connections with their counter-parts in Asia. However, there are two significant matters which must be addressed.
First, in a competitive environment for tertiary placements, how does one assess the standard in a language which is a student's native language as compared with a student without that background?
Secondly, and more importantly, English is a very rich and beautiful language. So much of the English language comes from the Latin and French languages.
To ignore the teaching of these languages is to the detriment of the teaching of English.