Victorian students are required to learn a language other than English up until year 8 and for many years our students learnt Italian. This year after extensive community consultation we choose to change the language to Chinese – Mandarin.
The main reasons the community selected Mandarin include:
- Australia is viewed geographically as part of Asia and most people immigrating into Australia come from Asian countries – therefore we should include Asian perspectives across the curriculum to better understand our neighbours – including a language.
- China is one of our main trading nations and in this international economic climate to speak the language is an advantage.
We have recruited a teacher and looked for grants to fund the resources required to start teaching the language. We have already attracted groups of Chinese teachers at summer school at RMIT to visit the school and interact with the students. In the next year or so we we look to develop a sister school relationship with a school in China so that students can learn about Chinese culture and practice some language skills.
We imagine it will take some time for the students who, for the most part do not come from Asian countries, to learn about the Chinese culture. We are operating from the theory that when you understand the culture your capacity to understand the language improves. This all makes for an exciting journey ahead.
Any tips from schools that have started this journey would be appreciated.