A new national centre aims to boost the number of students studying Chinese language and culture. The Chinese Teacher Training Centre, based at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education in the University of Melbourne, will develop Australian expertise in the unique aspects of teaching Chinese and enhance the delivery of the teaching of Chinese in schools.

Just 3% of Year 12 students currently take Chinese, 94% of whom speak the language at home.

The centre is the outcome of a partnership between Hanban (the executive body of the Chinese Language Council International) and the Victorian Government. It is the first of three international centres planned by the Hanban, with one in the US and one in Europe also in the pipeline.

Dr Jane Orton of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education has been nominated as Director of the Centre. She believes Australia must increase the number of young people taking Chinese to Year 12 as a matter of urgency.

“Fewer than 20 per cent of Australians now working in China can speak the language, and only 10 per cent have studied a China-related subject,” she said.