This article provides a comparative analysis of foreign language policies in Asia and Australia with reference to policy contexts, motivations and processes. The analysis is specifically motivated by the recent publication of the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper that represents Australia’s renewed desire to engage with Asia by developing “Asia literacy” including the development of national proficiency in selected Asian languages. It is argued that, although foreign language policies in the two regions present interesting similarities in terms of policy contexts and goals, there is notable disconnect between Asia and Australia that potentially undermines Australian policy desire to connect with Asia. Furthermore, although languages, like other national resources, are planned to address social needs and aspirations, subjecting languages to economic imperative reflects not only misconceptions of languages but also misappropriation of their potential.
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