12 June 2017

Association of Spanish Teachers of Western Australia (ASTWA)

Over the past two years there has been a lot going on behind the scenes in the Languages department where Kate Webster-Blythe, Emma Waters and Amy Ward have been working in collaboration with teachers in other WA schools to establish the Association of Spanish Teachers of Western Australia (ASTWA). Although it is on the rise in the eastern states and South Australia, Spanish is not as widely offered throughout Australia as other European languages, and its availability is particularly lacking in WA. Despite the low number of schools that offer Spanish as a subject, people's interest is increasing. ASTWA has already started to bring together teachers of Spanish from various institutions and there have been some exciting developments in recent months.

The need for an association first became apparent in August 2014 at an AISWA Teacher Network Meeting when we realised that almost half of those attending had taught Spanish before they started work in Australia. Feeling inspired, Kate and Emma put the wheels in motion to get ASTWA off the ground by writing a Constitution and confirming with the Department of Commerce that nobody else was using the ASTWA name. Once ASTWA had been advertised in the press and there were no objections, in 2015 the Association was registered as an Incorporated Body and eventually affiliated with the MLTAWA (Modern Languages Teachers of Western Australia) in 2016.

ASTWA held its first symposium at the MLTAWA Biennial State Conference in August 2016 where some 150 language teachers from across Australia came together to share ideas and discuss the future of languages in the Australian curriculum. We were incredibly lucky that the Honorary Spanish Consul, Enric Tarraso Letang, was able to attend and speak at the symposium. Nathan Schaff (Year 11, Anderson), also gave up his time to share a student's perspective on the importance of studying Spanish and his own experience.

The main objectives of ASTWA are to promote teaching and learning of Spanish within the community, provide a support network for teachers and students and facilitate the provision of Spanish language courses in the community. Given that more than 560 million people around the world speak Spanish, it is the third most used language in the media and one of the six official languages of the United Nations, it is impossible to deny the importance and relevance of the Spanish language in today's world. The University of Western Australia has recognised this by announcing that it will offer Spanish studies at tertiary level from 2017, which is extremely encouraging for students who wish to pursue their studies when they finish school and particularly exciting because being able to communicate in Spanish opens doors to many career paths such as interpreting, commerce and diplomatic services to name but a few.

ASTWA is a fledgling association and there remains plenty of work to do, but we are delighted to be able to share the progress we have made over the past two years and feel confident this will continue in years still to come. Ultimately, we hope that ASTWA will enable schools to offer Spanish language classes as readily as other European languages. If you are interested in learning more about the Association, please visit and like our Facebook page or feel free to contact us. If you wish to become a member of ASTWA or know somebody else who might be interested, please join MLTAWA and select ASTWA from the list of affiliated associations.

Miss Amy Ward

Modern Languages Teacher