Ground-breaking learning

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Language Teacher Peter White says that there is mounting evidence that bi- and multi-lingual people are better at analyzing their surroundings, multi-tasking, and problem solving.
Language Teacher Peter White says that there is mounting evidence that bi- and multi-lingual people are better at analyzing their surroundings, multi-tasking, and problem solving.

Catholic schools in the Sydney Archdiocese are ending inconsistencies and offering continued language studies between primary and high schools.

Parents of primary students will soon be able to send their children to any high school in the diocese and be guaranteed they can keep learning the language.

Using an iPad app, built by Japanese Language teacher Peter White, students will be able to learn and communicate with teachers who will appear via internet-enabled whiteboards from four soundproof booths at St. Brigid’s Primary School in Marrickville

“If a student consistently learns one language over their schooling, you can expect them to be fluent by Year 8,” Mr White said.

“At the moment it’s not mandatory for primary school students to learn a language, even though it’s so much easier to teach young kids, who are like sponges.

“Adolescents picking up new languages for the first time aren’t inclined to make, and learn, from their mistakes because they are self-conscious and worry about the judgement of their peers.”

Dr. Neel Burton M.D. from Psychology today says there are a number of benefits from being bilingual or multilingual.

Japanese Language teacher Peter White with some of his students.
Japanese Language teacher Peter White with some of his students.

“According to several studies, people who learn another language do significantly better on standardized tests,” he said.

“There is mounting evidence that bi- and multi-lingual people are better at analyzing their surroundings, multi-tasking, and problem solving.

“They also have a larger working memory, including for tasks that do not involve language.”

With so many potential benefits, learning a second language should be a high priority in schools.

A 2013 NSW government policy document set a target of 40 per cent of Year 12 students studying a foreign language within a decade. However, only 9 per cent of Year 12 students studied a foreign language in this year’s HSC, down from last year.

This new form of language learning will begin in 2020, with 24 primary schools offering Japanese to students.  If the pilot is successful parents can expect further languages to be offered using the same system.