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First in the world: Our language student star

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A Sydney Catholic Schools student has eclipsed 181,000 students to take out the Arabic crown in the Education Perfect World Languages Championships.

“I have participated in this competition for the past two years and achieved great growth in my mother language, which is Arabic,” Katlen Ghanem,winner of Education Perfect’s Emerald Award, said modestly.

Katlen is currently studying Year 11 Arabic Continuers at Holy Spirit Catholic College Lakemba, which has been enrolled in Education Perfect since 2011 when it was called Language Perfect. Back then it was a language competition only.

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Katlen Ghanem with Holy Spirit Principal Phillip Scollard and Languages coordinator Maria Joseph Abi- Arrage Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Today it is an annual series of online competitions where students earn points across Humanities, English, Science, Maths and Languages.

“Our college, under the support and permission of our principal, had the privilege to be part of establishing and organising the Arabic activities and exercises in Education Perfect Languages,” Holy Spirit Lakemba’s languages coordinator, Marie Joseph Abi- Arrage, said.

Ms Abi-Arrage said this year the school entered students in Arabic (66 students), French (18 students) and Italian (70 students).

“Holy Spirit students answered 119,246 questions and earned 43,929 points, giving us a global ranking of 235 out of 2155 schools,” she said.

“We came second in Arabic out of 874 schools globally and first in Australia.”

Our big star, Katlen, said competing in the competition has really helped improve her vocabulary which has “helped me to express my ideas in a better, more sophisticated way.”

 Benefits of learning a second language

Arabic, French and Italian language are compulsory subjects in Stage 4 (Year 8) at Holy Spirit Lakemba. The language programs are offered as electives in stage 5 and Stage 6.

Ms Abi-Arrage said there are many amazing advantages and benefits of learning a second language.

Katlen Ghanem,winner of Education Perfect’s Emerald Award. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“Learning a second language will help our students in their future, in communicating directly with new clients and companies in their native language – one of the first steps to founding a lasting, stable international business relationship,” Ms Abi-Arrage said.

“Being able to do this automatically puts any multilingual person miles ahead of his or her peers in the competition for jobs and high-prestige positions.

“Furthermore, learning a second language will help our students in developing an intercultural capability and an understanding of the role of language and culture in communication, and become more accepting of difference and diversity.”

In 2020, there were 11 Holy Spirit students completing Arabic Extension, one was completing Spanish Continuers and one student is currently sitting the Arabic Continuers HSC.

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