Angela Sunde is an English/LOTE teacher and today she shares her views on PIRs
A child from Mongolia may learn to speak English, but he will identify himself as Mongolian. So a book about a kid in San Francisco, who catches a tram to school, will have no relevance to him in his environment and he will not be able to identify with this story. Similarly it will do nothing to support the Australian child’s developing identity.
Just because we all speak English, doesn’t mean we are all the same. I have taught foreign languages for over 20 years and speak five myself. I know first hand how very difficult it is to learn and understand the cultural nuances of a particular language and its people. Australia is no longer a colony. We have developed our own unique ways of speaking and writing, which reflect our beliefs and attitudes as separate from the rest of the English speaking world. And our experiences and influences are different from those of other nations, including the US and UK.
If PIRs are lifted, fewer Australian books will be published. This has been admitted by the Productivity Commission. They will be replaced by foreign books for our kids. This issue is not just about what we as adults want to read. Our kids love to read stories about themselves and with fewer Australian books published, there won’t be many for them to choose from. This is the major concern for me.