European Day of Languages

One thing about being a connected educator, means that you hear about many of the special International Days and celebrations that other countries participate in. One such day is the European Day of Languages, celebrated on 23rd September, 2013.  This was brought to my attention following lengthy discussions on the HLW Skypers skype group. Teachers were discussing how they would celebrate it and how they could connect their students to countries whose language they were learning.

Tatyana Chernaya, of Moscow, was seeking partnerships for her students. As we were on school holidays, and I happened to be in Melbourne at my son’s unit, I was able to connect over skype with Tatyana and one of her language students. It was with quite some surprise that he shyly told me that he was really interested in languages and could in fact speak three fluently: Russian, English, French and German. (I did not have the heart to tell him that I could only speak English despite learning French at school and have retained little knowledge of it).

Unfortunately, in Australia and perhaps as we are an island and reasonably remote from bordering countries, our students, in the main, do not see much purpose in learning another language. Hence although it is required that students learn another language other than English from early year levels through to year 8 (in our school), they learn culture rather than the language. Our school teaches mandarin Chinese but students do not speak it well. Yet, visiting Chinese students to our school speak English well.

Taking a Russian languages student out into the streets of Melbourne

Taking a Russian languages student out into the streets of Melbourne

As I was in Melbourne and had mobile internet access, I was able to virtually “walk” him and Tatyana out into the lovely ‘leafy’ street that my son lives in and share a little of Melbourne with them and the context in which the English language is spoken. Tatyana’s students blogs can be found at Well Done.

How important do you think that it is to learn another language? What languages do you speak? What languages are taught in your school? How do your students view the learning of languages.

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