Current Issues

The New Zealand Curriculum and Asia

Current state of Asian languages in NZ secondary schools

Japanese ranks as the second most popular second-language studied by NZ high school students. But participation in Chinese lags far behind. Despite Korean, Indonesian, Arabic, and other Asian languages being recognised by NZQA, there are no secondary schools providing these languages to date. Therefore New Zealand students are practically given only two choices of Asian languages. The absence of an overarching language framework, generic NZQA standards, and no synchronisation of language studies between primary, intermediate and secondary levels provides little basis for coherent language studies. Furthermore, the “English is sufficient” psyche presents a major obstacle to the pursuit of multilingualism.

Current state of Asian studies in NZ secondary schools

While there is potential for Asia to be integrated into the study of communications, social science, geography, history and art, the absence of any explicit national directive on the study of Asia means that the inclusion of Asian studies is entirely at a school’s discretion.

Existing field of research and recommendations

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade identifies “becoming more Asia literate” as a key challenge.
  • Asia New Zealand Foundation has initiated an Asia Aware school initiative. It has tried to encourage teachers and principals to take educational leadership in spearheading the study of Asia. It has also developed some resource kits for schools.
  • Joseph Lo Bianco recommends that the teaching of Asian culture must be given equal emphasis as the study and proliferation of Asian languages.
  • Pauline Keating recommends that teachers may require special training and resources in support of their role in delivering Asia education.