Japanese language in Australia and New Zealand??

okonomiyaki   Fri Apr 17, 2009 6:31 pm GMT
I've found some statistics that show 20~30% of secondary pupils who

study modern languages in Australia and New Zealand choose Japanese

while it is chosen by 1~2% of pupils in the UK, Canada, USA(except

Hawaii and California). I understand that oceanian countries are more likely

to be affected by Asian market than Great Britain or North America. But

does that mean there are far more people in Australia or New Zealand who

are fluent in Japanese than any other western countries??(except for

Japanese Americans in Hawaii and California) I mean, Japanese or any

other asian languages can be a tough choice for native English speakers.

are there many Australians and New Zealanders who can read 'hiragana'

and count 'ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku'?

These are some interesting statistics that indicate Japanese and other

foreign language education in English speaking countries.

Top 10 countries with Number of Students learning Japanese

1st Korea : 910,957

2nd China : 684,366

3rd Australia : 366,165

6th USA : 117,969

10th New Zealand : 29,904

Canada and UK and other western countries : not on the list

Source : www.jpf.go.jp/e/japanese/survey/result/img/2006_03.pdf

Number of people learning Japanese is 3 times more in Australia than

America while population of Australia is just only 1/15 of that of America,

which basically means you are 45 times more likely to meet Japanese

learners in Australia than America and maybe 100 times more than Britain

or European countries. Is this really true?? I'm quite surprised.

Most taught modern languages in English speaking countries

UK(GCSE Statistics)
1st French, 2nd German, 3rd Spanish

1st Spanish, 2nd French, 3rd German, 4th Italian, 5th Japanese

State of Hawaii
1st Japanese, 2nd Spanish, 3rd French

State of California
1st Spanish, 2nd French, 3rd Japanese

Source : www.actfl.org/files/public/Enroll2000.pdf

Australia(New South Wales)
1st French, 2nd Japanese, 3rd German, 4th Italian

Source : www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/secondary/languages/assets/pdf/Lang06SecData.pdf

New Zealand(except Maori language)
1st French, 2nd Japanese, 3rd Spanish, 4th German

Source : 'Data Tables' from

Thanks for reading my poor English!
New Zealander   Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:37 pm GMT
New Zealand has a huge Asian immigrant population (Korean and Chinese mostly). The children in these families almost invariably study Japanese at school. In the Japanese classes at my school there were probably approximately 80% Asians and 20% native New Zealanders. So basically, the vast majority of those people who learn Japanese are already fluent in either Korean or Chinese and hence it is likely to be much easier for them. The number of native English speakers learning Japanese is less than the number doing French or Spanish, and is probably similar to in other English speaking countries.

I don't know if it is the same in Australia.
okonomiyaki   Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:29 am GMT
Hello, mate! Thanks for your reply.

I've just checked out the Asian demographics in North America and

Oceania. 11.2%(3,509,950) of Canadians are Asian while 8.1%(354,552)

of New Zealanders are Asian, 6.7%(1,696,568) for Australians and 5%

(15,165,186) for Americans. Although the rate of Asian population is

lower in America than in New Zealand and Australia, America has the

largest number of Asian population. Also, Canada has the largest

proportion of Asian people. But Canada was not on the top 10 countries

with Japanese learners list while number of Asian population there is

10 times larger than New Zealand. So I've thought that even for white

people in Australia and New Zealand, they may study Japanese much more

than white North Americans or Europeans due to the fact that Japan

is one of the most important trade partners(please see below) to New

Zealand and Australia. It's just my personal guess, so I may be worng.


Main export partners : Japan 20.3%, China 11.5%, South Korea 7.9%, US 6.7%, New Zealand 6.5%, India 5%

Main import partners : US 13.9%, China 13.7%, Japan 11%, Singapore 5.6%, Germany 5.6%

New Zealand

Main export partners : Australia 19.6%, US 14.3%, Japan 11.4%, China 6.3%, UK 5.1%

Main import partners : Australia 28.6%, Japan 10.7%, US 10%, China 6.6%, Germany 4.2%, Singapore 4.1%


Main export partners : Canada 20.1%, Mexico 11.7%, China 5.5%, Japan 5.1%, Germany 4.2%, UK 4.1%

Main import partners : China 16.1%, Canada 16.0%, Mexico 10.3%, Japan 6.6%, Germany 4.7%


Main export partners : US 78.9%, UK 2.8%, China 2.1%

Main import partners : US 54.1%, China 9.4%, Mexico 4.2%

PS : Are French, Spanish, German useful in NZ or Australia? I know all of

these are such wonderful languages, but Australia and New Zealand are

so far from Europe and Latin America unlike Britain or America. I'm sure

that Spanish would be the most useful foreign language in America and

French or German would be very useful in England, but how about New

Zealand and Australia??