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Elsternwick Primary School VIC

Technology enhances language learning

When the Italian program at Elsternwick Primary School wound down, the school asked parents to vote for the language they wanted their children to study. They opted for Mandarin. The use of technology, combined with tailored extra-curricular activities, helped embed Mandarin in the school’s curriculum while keeping the language learning both relevant and sustainable.

Elsternwick Primary School purchased iPads, which were used to great effect in the Mandarin classroom, but also in other lessons.

“I was able to give an iPad, with my recordings on it, to each class teacher, and they used it to practise Mandarin once a day with students,” says Mandarin teacher, Rececca Hickman.

“The students loved it. It opened up a whole new world, especially in terms of learning a character language. ICT allows the students to do so many hands-on visual activities.”

The iPads are also being used as listening posts throughout the school. Next on the list, there are plans to expand Asian studies into Music lessons, and Grade 4 students will be writing and developing compositions on Asian instruments.

Students' enthusiasm for Asia

Inspired by Grade 5 students’ desire to create something special for their final piece of work within a unit on Asia, a ‘dragon building’ project began at Elsternwick Primary School. Guided by their teacher, Grade 5 students researched the culture, symbolism and stories of the Chinese Dragon before designing and creating the dragon with the help of two professional puppeteers.

The dragon-building project generated huge student enthusiasm for learning about China and Chinese culture.

“It created a great bond amongst the students and really developed relationships between the teachers and students in a positive way—and that is something that will last in the school. Some students said it was the best thing they had ever done at school,” says Hickman.

Mandarin beyond the language classroom

Making sure Mandarin stays highly visible within the school and that it is embedded throughout the whole school curriculum, work is being done on a huge three panel mural, based on the book Good Morning China. Every class is participating in creating the mural.

Chinese-related picture books have also been purchased for the library.

Cementing leadership support

study programme to China by the Principal, Mark Walker, has cemented ongoing leadership support for the Mandarin program. The Principal's has developed an appreciation of Chinese culture as well as a greater understanding of the importance of the new language for the development of students’ Asia capability.

Achievements

The benefits of the project have transcended cultural learning. The variety of strategies employed have ensured sustainable Asia literate curriculum that continues to inspire students and build on their enthusiasm.

Some of these initiatives have been supported by the Federal Government’s Becoming Asia Literate Grants Programme in conjunction with funding from Arts in Schools. 

Acknowledgements

Images: AEF

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