SCHOOL students across Australia could be learning Chinese Mandarin and Italian as early as 2014, after a new draft curriculum was released on Wednesday.
The two are the most common second languages spoken in Australia, School Education Minister Peter Garrett said.
He said the long-standing role of the Italian community in Australia, and the priorities under the government Asian Century white paper, were why these two languages had been chosen.
The draft paper outlines specific learning pathways for students for Chinese Mandarin, including background speakers, first language students and students who want to learn Mandarin.
"Different learning pathways will address the increasingly diverse needs and interests of the Australian population, which include Australian-born and overseas-born Chinese speakers attending school in Australia, as well as students that want to learn Chinese as their second language," Mr Garrett said.
"Learning a second language will help our children be global citizens and take advantage of the opportunities the Asian Century will give them, including international employment opportunities and greater cultural awareness."
Mr Garrett also invited interested people, including the education community and language specialists to get involved and provide feedback on the draft curriculum.
Other languages planned for the curriculum include Japanese, Indonesian, German, French, Vietnamese, Arabic, Spanish, Korean, Modern Greek and a framework for indigenous languages.