Australia says its national approach to language learning will start with Mandarin and Italian, although some critics have said the choices are inconsistent with previous statements about priorities. Education Minister Peter Garrett defended the decision. "That mix of language -- one European, which is part of the immigration heritage of our past, and one Chinese Mandarin, which is an indication of the language challenges of the future -- are good languages for us to start with," Garrett said, noting that engagement with Asia will be a common message throughout the curriculum.

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