Facts and figures to promote a better understanding of the Spanish language in Australian schools
Prepared by Alfredo Martínez-Expósito, The University of Melbourne and Ana López, Honorary Consul of Spain in collaboration with the Education Office of the Embassy of Spain. All data and images are copyright free or used under Fair Use provisions for the purpose of nonprofit educational purposes, commentary, teaching and scholarship.
“If we spoke a different language we would perceive a somewhat different world”
Ludwig Wittgenstein (attributed)
Spanish is one of the leading languages in today’s world and is second only to Mandarin by number of native speakers. It is a truly international language in commerce and trade, communication, education and many other areas. In the United States, an estimated 40 million use Spanish as their first language, and many more use it as a second language.
In Australia, the popularity of Spanish is gaining momentum and it is used by almost 100,000, making it the sixth largest community language. Contrary to general trends in foreign-language enrolments, Spanish is attracting more students at all level of education. New Spanish programs open every year at universities and Technical and further education (TAFE) courses across the nation. Large numbers of high schools are making the shift to Spanish and exchange programs with Spanish-speaking countries are in high demand. In the Australian context, Spanish is a unique Language Other Than English (LOTE) because it fulfills some basic needs in ways that other modern languages simply cannot.
Choosing the right language
When choosing a range of second languages to be offered through the LOTE department/area of your school, many factors should be carefully considered. Amongst them, the following question is of paramount importance:
Which languages are going to be more useful and provide a broader scope of opportunities for the upcoming generation of young Australians and Australian society in general?
In this website, we have identified and documented some of the reasons why Spanish is rapidly becoming Australia’s favorite second language, with up-to-date facts and statistical studies to assist you in making the right choice. We invite you to consider ten reasons why Spanish should be seriously considered. Spanish is one of the very few languages combining the three most sought-after aspects of modern foreign languages in Australia: it is a truly international language, it has a strong commerce and trade profile, and it is an Australian community language.
“Apply yourself to the study of the Spanish language with all the assiduity you can. It and the English covering nearly the whole face of America, they should be well known to every inhabitant, who means to look beyond the limits of his farm”
Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to Peter Carr” (1788)