NSW Schools set to go bilingual
This aricle in a local newspaper interested me:
CHILDREN in their first years of primary school will be required to learn and use an Asian language in the state's first bilingual classes.
Starting in kindergarten, students will take up Mandarin, Korean, Japanese or Indonesian for at least 90 minutes a day, across every class except English and mathematics.
Four government primary schools - Rouse Hill Public and Murray Farm in Sydney's northwest, Scotts Head Public on the North Coast and Campsie Public in Sydney's inner-west - have been selected as the first to specialise in an Asian language.
The Rees Government committed $2.25 million over four years to the Bilingual Schools Program.
"Young children have a far better chance of developing bilingual fluency from an early age," Education Minister Verity Firth said yesterday.
"These bilingual schools will teach two classes of students in kindergarten and Year 1 for 90 minutes each day and eventually will be expanded to all grades," Ms Firth said.
"By the completion of primary school, the students will have a solid foundation of the language and it's expected they will continue their learning into high school."
Rouse Hill Public deputy principal Graham Cooney said his school was chosen because it already had a strong commitment to teaching Mandarin as well as having direct links to a school in China.
"The kids really enjoy it . . . progress is slow but steady and down the track they will be holding daily conversations in Mandarin," Mr Cooney said.
Michelle Lao, 10, said: "Mandarin lessons are enjoyable. It's hard to learn but it's interesting. I speak it sometimes with my friends and we try to say words like pizza and hamburger in Mandarin."
Mandarin-speaking volunteers will assist teachers in class.
It is part of a major push by the Department of Education and Training to put Mandarin at the forefront of language teaching in NSW public schools.
Board of Studies data shows Chinese with 1243 enrolments in the HSC, is now the third most popular language after Japanese and French.
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