In her May 2012 newsletter to parents, Ms Beth Blackwood, Principal, Presbyterian Ladies’ College, advocated the importance of language skills.
AISWA Languages thanks Ms Blackwood for permitting the re-publication of her letter to parents.
While on long service leave I was once again painfully aware of the fact that I, like so many fellow Australians, am monolingual. The fact that the Federal Opposition leader would choose to focus part of his response to the budget on the need for schools to revive the teaching of foreign languages marks the significance of acquiring a second language in today’s global village and a shift in the complacent attitude that speaking English will get us by.
I was reminded of correspondence from a former colleague now working in the Minerals and Energy sector whose ‘googling’ for Perth based Resources and Energy job advertisements on SEEK on 27 April, revealed the advantage of having knowledge of another language. In summary the following positions signalled an advantage for applicants with competence in the designated second language:
35 Mining, Resources & Energy jobs – French
14 Mining, Resources & Energy jobs – Chinese
8 Mining, Resources & Energy jobs – German
7 Mining, Resources & Energy jobs – Indonesian
3 Mining, Resources & Energy jobs – Spanish
3 Mining, Resources & Energy jobs – Portuguese
We all have the capacity to learn other languages although, undoubtedly, our younger students have an advantage if learning before the age of 12 years – which is why we teach a second language from Pre-Primary onwards at PLC. Beyond that age requires greater discipline, time and practice but is achievable given motivation and hard work. Immersion in the language being learned is also an advantage, hence the opportunities PLC continues to build for language exchange programmes.
PLC offers girls the opportunity to learn Japanese and French from Year 7 through to Year 12. IB Diploma students may choose to take ab initio (beginners) Spanish in Year 11. The language options in Junior School are French or Chinese. From 2013 we will be offering continuing Chinese in Year 7 to those students transitioning from Junior School as well as students with a prior background and requisite level of Chinese.
While Tony Abbott notes that ‘foreign language studies had long been in decline’ PLC has witnessed an increase in the number of girls taking a second language through to Year 12 in both WACE and Diploma courses since the introduction of the IB curriculum. The utilitarian advantages of learning a second language are highlighted in the above job advertisements but perhaps more importantly, learning a second language also supports cultural awareness and understanding.
My colleague’s concluding comments were that “PLC girls will be competitive globally with their IB credentials”.