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The importance of languages other than English to Western Australia

Bungey, Leith Joy (1996) The importance of languages other than English to Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis describes the lack of official support for the teaching and learning of languages other than English (LOTE) in Western Australian schools and gauges community attitudes towards LOTE as well as the degree of appreciation of their sociological and economic importance to Western Australia.

LOTE’s socio-economic significance is explained from the perspectives of enhancing communicability and maximising understanding between English background Australians and non-English speaking people, and promoting Western Australia’s tourism, trade, industry, and international relations.

Primary sources of information including reports, records and media articles concerning events and government policies are examined, and survey results and interviews are analysed to discover the extent of recognition of the value of LOTE. Historical accounts provide secondary material.

The study demonstrates a proportional decline in LOTE enrolments in Western Australian schools. A certain residual xenophobia accounts for some of this deterioration but the major cause is official action which militates against the learning of LOTE. Such action includes the University of Western Australia abolishing its LOTE entry prerequisite, the Education Department of Western Australia implementing the Achievement Certificate and the Unit Curriculum, state government tardiness, federal government processes and an emphasis on vocational education.

The attitudes of students, parents and teachers towards LOTE were surveyed to determine the degree of community support for learning LOTE. It was found that although the community recognises the importance of LOTE to this state and partly supports their compulsory study, students are deterred from learning LOTE by the difficulties inherent in the Unit Curriculum, and by the belief that studying a LOTE detracts from a high tertiary entrance score.

This research found that the government effects no real measures to promote LOTE. The thesis concludes that languages other than English are a highly desirable part of education. Government commitment by way of appropriate funding to train and employ LOTE teachers, and to alleviate administrative problems, and official promotion of the benefits of LOTE study, are necessary to integrate LOTE into the curriculum and to increase student enrolments.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Humanities
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Chandrasegaran, Antonia and Ruthrof, Horst
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