Acting Head of Languages

The most common reason I hear about why it is useful to learn a new language is related to the idea of travelling. While this might undoubtedly be the case, learning a second language has been proven to have a powerful impact on our identity, our life and our future career opportunities. We may, in fact, never need to travel to discover the benefits of being a second language learner.

While the Australian Government is slowly progressing with the implementation of a successful national language policy, the necessity to learn a second language is globally recognised. One of the goals identified in our Strategic Plan 2016-2020 is to ensure our students are provided with an education which challenges set boundaries and prepares them for the future. How can teachers of languages help students learn those skills needed to build a better world?

According to The New Work Mindset  Report (2016), interaction skills are one of the most required skills for the jobs of the future. The study of a language is mostly based on learning how to interact on different levels and this is one of the reasons why “people who speak multiple languages make the best employees” and have better employment opportunities. Multilingual people perceive the time differently and according to Keith Chen, Associate Professor of Economics, this seems to have a correlation with the way they think about the future, enhancing their ability to make more considerate financial decisions.

Any type of learning affects the structure of our brain and this strongly applies to language learning too. Scientists believe that a multilingual speaker’s brain looks different and develops better cognitive skills. John McWhorter, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, claims that learning a language “will most certainly blow your mind”.

In our faculty, we are committed to continue providing learning experiences which challenge and build resilience in our students. From Year 7, students understand that learning a language means to have self-discipline, effective organisational skills and a lot of patience. Our senior students in Years 11 and 12 are appreciative of the present and future implications of years of hard work developing their language skills and knowledge.

This year we also had a number of significant changes in our department. To be in line with NESA, our faculty is now called Languages (not LOTE anymore) and Mandarin is now referred to as Chinese. We also welcomed our new staff members: Ms. Florianne Calleya-Jones (Teacher of French); Ms. Michela Pezzi (Teacher of French and Italian) and Ms. Jingling Hu (Teacher of Chinese). We wish them a rewarding and productive year. Our senior students will continue to be helped in their speaking skills by our dedicated and highly experienced Language Assistants Ms. Isabelle Pellet (French) and Ms. Maria Caterina Conte (Italian).

On behalf of all Languages teachers, I would like to thank our students and their families for sharing with us a unique passion and often a multicultural family history. Many students continue to cultivate their love for languages at university level, disclosing an unlimited world of possibilities. As teachers, this is one of the highest levels of achievement because we have made a difference: we have helped to change our students’ life course for the better.

Learning a language in high school was definitely one of the best decision I ever made. After completing Year 12 I made sure to choose a degree in which I would still be able to study Italian, and have now been studying it for almost two years at university. After this semester, I will complete my study of the language and move on to studying Italian culture and literature, including the works of Dante and other authors. Next year I will also be completing a six-month exchange trip to the University of Bologna. Italian has been such an important part of my learning, and as something I truly enjoy, it provides a nice balance with the other subjects I’m currently studying. It has also given me a greater insight into the English language, allowing me to think critically and engage on a more meaningful level with my work.” 

Grace Maher, third in the state for the Italian Continuers course 2015

Further reading:

The New Work Mindset Report 2016

People who speak multiple languages make the best employees

Better Employment Opportunities

Bilinguals experience time differently. This is why

How language affects your wealth and health

Could language affect your ability to save money?

 

Mrs Stefania Thomsett
Acting Head of Languages