The positives of studying Greek in year 12

With the performance of year 12 Modern Greek students so high, why are the number of students enrolling in the subject dropping? Penni Pappas explains

Misconceptions, incorrect information and negative urban myths could all be to blame for the decrease in students enrolling in year 12 Modern Greek. The numbers of students enrolling in year 12 Modern Greek has dropped by nearly 50 per cent and in a bid to combat this, teachers, principals and community leaders have joined forces to campaign and encourage more students to enrol and parents to encourage their children to take up the language.
Principal of the Greek language schools of the Greek community Yiannis Milides was the driving force behind a campaign to bring more students to study Modern Greek in year 12. He organised a meeting last Sunday with principals of schools that offer Greek as a subject to educate them on all the positives of studying Greek out of concern for the dwindling numbers of students. After the meeting, all the attendees agreed to promote and educate the Greek community on the positive benefits of studying Greek in year 12.
One of the biggest positives is the performance of the students in year 12 themselves. In the last ten years, many of the students scored more than 70 per cent, with the students in 2011 receiving the average score of 78.4 per cent. To prove that Greek students’ performance was better, Mr Milides compared the results of Greek students in year 12 with other languages and also perceived easy subjects such as Psychology and Legal Studies and found that students studying Greek performed better in the last ten years.
He also said another benefit of studying Greek in year 12 is that it isn’t scaled down as the perceived easy subjects – which is another misconception in the community. Modern Greek in year 12 in Victoria receives a bonus mark of five points so if the student receives 30 as their overall mark, they will be scaled up to 35. This scaling will further their chances to get into their chosen university degree, another positive of studying Modern Greek at a year 12 level.
The subject will allow the student to study law and humanities at a tertiary level, dispelling the myth that the student needs to study Legal Studies in order to take up law at university. If you want your student to receive a university offer, encouraging them to study Greek in year 12 is one way they can do this. This is because most students of Greek have been studying the subject since primary school. They have evolved with the subject, and at times they hear the language spoken at home or on the radio or read it through Greek newspapers. Therefore, they have the background knowledge to succeed.
Mr Milides dispelled the other myth that Greek as a year 12 subject would be too hard for students. As a year 12 teacher, he says he is often told by parents – who have allowed their children to study Greek up until year 11 – that year 12 Greek would be too hard for their children when in reality, the subject course has been tailor made for Greek Australians of second and third generations. The Greek curriculum was completely revamped in 1998, when the Department of Greek education in Greece noticed that the performance of Greek students of the diaspora wasn’t as successful as previous years. Through funding by the European Union, scholars at the University of Crete created a brand new Greek course for secondary students in Greek studies; meaning that the resources used in year 12 Greek and the syllabus that the teachers abide by is up-to-date and meets the needs of the students who are of second and third generation parents. And by looking at the statistics that show the students are flourishing in Greek, only proves even more that the subject matter can be easily digested.
Adding to that, Mr Milides said Greek students are successful because of the dedication of their teachers, and that’s one thing that the Greek community needs to realise.
“That’s why we have to start a campaign, unite the principals of the schools to tell the community how dedicated we are,” explained Mr Milides.
“We got a 78 per cent average last year: the medium score was B+ [for Modern Greek]. For Psychology it was C+ and for Legal Studies it was C+. The quality of Greek teaching hasn’t fallen, but the students in year 12 has.”
Mr Milides also believes that if we get more students interested in studying Greek at a secondary level, then many more would be keen to continue their studies in Modern Greek at a tertiary level, which would have a positive impact on the number of students enrolling in studying Greek at universities, which is also suffering from lack of enrolments. He said it could have another positive effect on the number of Greek teachers, as students graduating from Modern Greek at a tertiary level could aim to become a Greek teacher, combating the shortage issue.
“We have 130,000 Greek people living in Melbourne so why aren’t their children studying Greek?” he asked Neos Kosmos with the hope that this collective knowledge will aim to promote and educate parents and students to make the decision to continue to study Greek in year 12.
Mr Milides is aiming to hold a meeting with the parents of students of Greek schools – of which there are about 10,000 students studying in language schools and after hours and weekend schools – and educate them on all the positives of studying Greek in year 12. He said that if you inform them of the successful results students receive by studying Greek they may change their mind and enrol their children. And for the Greek community as a whole, Mr Milides implores us all to spread the positive news that a year 12 student of Modern Greek receives an all round, well balanced education.