Monday, November 7, 2011

Promoting the study of language through culture

Mount Lawley Senior High School is one of the schools in Perth which have a special languages program under the title Gifted and Talented Education (GATE). I have been involved in their Languages Parent Support Group since my second child entered the program at the start of this year.

The most recent event at the school was organising an Oktoberfest at the end of term 3. There was cake and Bretzeln, there were Bratwuerste and Sauerkraut to sample.

I still have a traditional German costume (Tracht) from the Harz mountains which I made myself during a stint in a German folk club during the late eighties. I was surprised that it still fit me. Putting it on I joined in the festivities by playing more or less traditional German songs on the accordeon.
The year 10 GATE class is the last class to study German under the GATE program. The program has in the past two years been limited to students of Chinese and Italian.

The students were able helpers and many people had a go at the German language tongue twisters, putting the attempts on video. This class under their relief teacher Isabella also collated great displays on the origin of the Octoberfest and the fate of the Berlin wall.

All in all it was a phantastic day.

Learning the language through getting a glimpse at the culture increases motivation and is a good taster. If you like it you probably want some more. Sustaining the motivation of language students is a major factor in the success of the language learning.

Building bridges with ethnic providers, such with the Perth German magazine 'Treffpunkt WA' is another piece in the mocaic of successful language learning.

The many sponsors for cakes, bretzels and saussages demonstrated that ethnic culture is alive and thrieving.

Congratulations to the school for putting such an event on the agenda. And special congratulation to the language teacher Isabella for getting everything together and to the parents for volunteering on the day.

I think we are getting better at promoting language and culture and spreading the word about how beneficial it is to learn a second language! Let's do just that!