27 November 2017

Scotch College - Committed to Languages

The College's vision states: 'A learning community with an international standard of excellence.'

It is with this in mind that we are completely committed to delivering Languages across K-12 at the College. Within the School Curriculum and Standards Authorities minimum requirements for schools regarding teaching languages, the compulsory nature of the subject only exists for Years 3-8. The College offers French from K-12 and Indonesian from Year 6-12, with the option of taking Spanish in the IB Diploma Programme in Year 11 and 12 and indeed some IB Diploma students have taken courses in Mandarin and German as part of their studies.

The decision to have compulsory languages within our Curriculum from K-10 links to the College's vision in regard to international excellence. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that in 2011 81% of Australian families spoke only English at home, and coupled with this, less than 10% of students across State based education systems studied languages as an elective beyond Year 10. The prevalence of second language learning in Australia is not high.

In fact, in terms of the least multilingual countries, Australia ranks fourth lowest behind the USA, UK and Canada with only 12.5% of people who speak more than one language. This is in contrast to the global leaders of Israel (74.7%), Egypt (68%), Indonesia (57.3%) and Sweden (51%).

The monolingual mindset in Australia is a challenging one, with cultural and social attitudes adding to the low statistics in second language learning. In a report entitled Indo-Pacific; An Age of Uncertainty: Balancing Australia's relations with the US and Indonesia by Stephen Smith, he states:

'In the coming decades, Australia's biggest challenge is to maintain its prosperity as a developed economy and democracy. Emerging powers, such as Indonesia and India and their direct foreign investment will be essential to Australia's future prosperity.'

The ability for our students to engage across the globe in a language other than English will see them at a distinct advantage when it comes to expanding their opportunities, as well as interacting and learning about other cultures.

Cognitively, the benefits of language learning are also well researched. Studies at the University of Edinburgh found that second language learners have improved attention and mental alertness, another study by the Pennsylvania State University found that bilingual speakers can outperform monolinguals when working on multiple projects simultaneously.

Additionally, language learning requires students to be disciplined, have a curiosity, listen, be determined and be focused on self-development. It is for these reasons that we are, and shall continue to be, committed to providing language learning at the College as we prepare boys for life.

Mr Peter Allen
Director of Teaching and Learning