Sports could be a new teaching method for children to learn new languages.
At the Sate Community Languages School Conference last week, the sporting community addressed a 400 strong crowd of language teachers and instructors in Melbourne.
Netball Victoria and AFL Victoria hope to use sport and language as a way to include people from all backgrounds and promote camaraderie in ethnic groups.
Community Languages Australia Executive Director Stefan Romaniw believes sports are a great, inclusive way for children to get involved and network.
“If you look at a sporting club, it is very much like a family. So the more people we can get involved the more productive they’ll become,” he told Neos Kosmos.
Community languages Australia has been working with Netball Victoria, AFL Victoria and also Melbourne Victory primarily to raise awareness of the sports, but more importantly to encourage people to get involved in sporting activities.
Mr Romaniw hopes that soon they will be able to hold a sporting carnival that will bring the language groups together.
“Sports people have to be ready on the field, teachers have to be ready on the day to teach and students need to be ready on the day to learn,” he says.
Also at the conference, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Nicholas Kotsiras, spoke about the important role languages in schools play and his vision for the future.
For the crowd, the conference was a way to see how other languages teach and to collaborate together to help the industry grow.
Mr Tasso Douvartzides, the Australian Federation of Ethnic Schools Associations chair believes it is that which makes the conference so useful.
“We learn from the Greek teachers, from the Chinese teachers. It’s a good way for us to collaborate with what works well and what doesn’t, thereby learning from our mistakes,” he told Neos Kosmos.
The conference represented over 40 languages being taught in Victoria, and many in the crowd dressed in national dress to make their presence known.
The conference also touched on utilising new technology, like more online content and gadgets like iPads. It was a chance to work on how to better engage students with languages.
Overall, Mr Douvartzides says the conference was a way to ensure the future of community language schools.
“It’s a chance for the efforts of language schools to be recognized and for the schools to be assisted with how they run and assisted economically,” he says.
In Victoria there are over 37, 000 students studying a range of 50 languages: 40 of these can be taken at VCE level.
Community language schools have the highest retention rates of students in languages education.