Mrs Ash

Dear Parents, Students, Carers and Other Parishioners,

 

Last week we enjoyed a very prayerful Confirmation Mass with our Year 6 students, their families and friends and Fr Tad and our Southern region Bishop, Peter Elliott.

I was thinking back, driving home from the mass, on how those friends of Jesus were affected by the gift of the Spirit of God entering into their hearts at the very first Confirmation, Pentecost. Do you remember the signs and symbols that are described in the Gospel as signs of the Spirit coming at Pentecost? The apostles’ hearts felt as if they were on fire (tongues of fire), they were filled with energy as from a great wind (they heard a great wind) and they were understood by people who did not share their particular language (they were able to communicate the in many tongues).

 

SpeakingSpeaking many languages means that communication about the message of the Gospels could be heard and understood by many. If we can communicate effectively with each other across the language barrier that divides us, it means that we are all going to be living in a better world.

 

Our Australian leaders are waking up to this reality!

They are using the National Curriculum to ensure that all schools need to be offering students the option to learn at least one additional language. All schools are now required to teach and report on an additional language to English from Year 2. Some people think that teaching languages is not important and they often dismiss the importance of learning a language in words and actions. This attitude often filters down to our students and they in turn feel learning a language is a waste of time. All are wrong about this on several counts!  

 

Our students get the opportunity at St Elizabeth’s to participate in the learning of Chinese Mandarin. Many of our students are already very blessed to have the ability to speak more than one language. One year we enrolled a child who spoke four languages fluently and in addition, she was beginning to learn English and she was only 4 years old! Families who have several languages to hand on to their children have a real gift to share.

 

This requirement for all schools to offer an additional language is a direct consequence of concern amongst educators and politicians and economists that schools are not only failing to teach languages but are failing spectacularly! Language is important. Language is the basis of most social experiences. For many of us that is a spoken language but sign languages are also important.

 

When President Le Keqiang, visited Australia there were only 130 Australians of non-Chinese descent that could hold a conversation with him! At the same time trade between China and Australia is increasing and even more importantly, job advertisements for people who could speak Chinese as well as English rose by 18% in one year alone. The ability to speak different languages as a criteria for successful employment will continue to grow as countries engage in higher levels of partnership and commerce. With China as a major trading partner, it makes sense to introduce the language to our students. That is the main reason why we teach Chinese Mandarin.

 

Whilst not all our students will go on to work with companies dealing in trade with China, it is highly likely that they will meet people from different cultures and speaking different languages in their day to day life. We are a nation that values multiculturalism and we mix socially with people of many backgrounds. Helping children to appreciate and value other traditions and cultures prepares them to grow into tolerant and respectful citizens. Respecting people who are in many ways different to ourselves and yet similar in many ways too is a sign of maturity.

 

As Christians we share an understanding that we are all connected in God’s family. Our environment may be different, we may eat with different tools, wear different kind of clothes, live in different types of houses and we may even sound different but we are all here with the same mission, to be the best person we can be our chns handsand to make this world a better place. We need to do everything we can to connect to each other. Learning another language builds a bridge!

 

Learning a language gives us insight into the world of other people. Next year we will be teaching Chinese Mandarin from Foundation through to Year 6. Please remember that your attitude towards learning another language will affect the way your child approaches the task. Be positive and help your child understand that to be able to communicate with someone from another country, another culture, and another language is a blessing!


Christine Ash

Principal

cash@sedandenongnth.catholic.edu.au