Head of Languages

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.

Henry David Thoreau

A few nights ago, as I was preparing dinner, the ABC show “The Drum” was on TV. I had to stop to listen to Professor Genevieve Bell, a Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University (ANU). I was fascinated by her explanation of “liminal” time. This is a concept used when a time doesn’t feel like anything else, when it is a time in between times, and when we don’t know what to do or how to navigate it. How many of us in the world are experiencing this feeling right now?

In one of my past newsletters, I reflected on the concept of change and how this shapes our future. In these “liminal” times, perhaps we need to re-examine our priorities and question what the expression ‘living in the moment’ means to each one of us, especially when thinking about the future feels overwhelming. Last year, as our faculty was preparing and planning for 2020, we made the brave and risky decision to redesign our Year 8 French and Italian courses. This decision was based on researched methodologies and practices, keeping in mind a long-term project where the students’ personal world was at the very centre of our units of work. We had to learn how to feel comfortable in the unknown, always hoping for a happy ending. How can we guide our students to develop robustness and resilience in this “liminal” time of radical uncertainty, to grow from living in the present and to keep hope for the future?

There are times when young people show us how to best approach challenges: their courage and energy allow them to ‘fight’ back with an enormous strength, creativity and determination. Our Year 12 languages students have been phenomenal, to say the least, in showing what a Loreto woman is truly about. Despite the initial unpredictable outcome about their HSC Examinations, they continued to put their hearts and minds into their studies, consistently working independently and collaboratively towards their goals. Driven by their genuine love for learning and ambition for success, they didn’t lose focus and took every opportunity offered to them to receive and act on feedback. Some of them have already completed or are about to complete their HSC speaking component. I would like to thank all the languages teachers, language assistants and Ms Ugonotti for preparing the students with so much care and dedication. I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome our new Chinese teacher, Ms Mengya Gu, who started with us at the beginning of this year and I wish her a productive year ahead.

Year 7 students have enjoyed the new Language and Cultural Studies course, learning different topics across the three languages offered at the school. They have been able to apply their knowledge of the language in a fun and authentic way. Their genuine enthusiasm reminds us of their ability to find joy for and be amazed by “little things”. Letting themselves be guided and inspired by their teachers, our students have responded to change by reminding us of the gift of the present, valuing the significance of the “here and now” within ourselves and with others around us.

During academic plenaries, we had the pleasure of meeting most of our parents whose daughters are currently studying languages. We have been very touched with the positive feedback we have received. If you have any other good stories to share with us about your daughter’s study of a language, please let us know by getting in contact with us because they will start conversations, initiate change and connect us together.

 

Mrs Stefania Thomsett

Head of Languages