When the opportunity arose to join China Connections, a global collaborative project setup by Julie Lindsay of Flat Connections and Katie Grubby of Mandarin Pathways, it was taken up immediately, with strong approval by our principal. Our school teaches mandarin Chinese from Prep (5 year olds) through to year 10 with the option to study it further as a formal VCE subject by distance learning.
Students in our school are isolated geographically and culturally and see little need to learn another language as travel overseas and exposure is not an option for many. Most live on farms or in small rural towns, are from low economic backgrounds and often remain in the small rural communities. However, our school has had Chinese language assistants for the last three years and Beijing no. 27 school sends students to our school every second year and our students are offered that same opportunity. Only a very small number of students take up this opportunity.
In 2015, one of our year 10 student, Sarah was was fortunate enough to be part of the Victorian Young Leaders to China Program in 2015. Sarah wishes to study mandarin Chinese through to year 12. Along with four other year 9/10 ICT students, they will be part of this trial project.
The Project so far has involved:-
- several schools in China, Australia, USA and a number of individually enrolled teachers and students.
- finding tools that can be accessed in both China and the other countries involved. These include edmodo, voicethread, skype, wechat and email.
- cross age students from primary through to secondary and some home schooled students
- supportive community members in China See The Learning Concierges page.
- regular global staff meetings online in fuze.
- a wechat group for updates, sharing pictures, conversations etc Wechat is a popular social media app used in China with many great features