Indian Languages Conference

Indian Languages Conference

 The VSL recently hosted the inaugural conference for teachers of Indian languages. The conference had its antecedent in 2015 when Dr Peter Friedlander, Senior Lecture in Hindi at the Australian National University organised the first Hindi workshop. It was decided to extend this year’s conference to teachers of all Indian Languages and we offered to host it at the Victorian School of Languages in Thornbury.

Dr Friedlander, speaking in both Hindi and English, outlined the scope of the conference and this was followed by a speech by the Indian Consul-General, Mr Rakesh Malhotra.

Consul-General of India, Mr Rakesh Mulhotra

The next speaker was Ms Mridula Kakkad who introduced the new VCE Distance Education Course for Hindi developed by the Victorian School of Languages, the first in Australia. She worked as Editor assisting the course writer Ms Bhavya Shah who is currently overseas.

Dr Surjeet Dhanji, a Researcher with the Australia-India Institute outlined the Institute’s recent publication “A very short policy brief – strategies to expand Hindi education in Australia.” In this strategy there is a recommendation that the VSL be funded by the Federal Government to develop Hindi online courses.

A number of teachers and developers then spoke about recent materials they have developed in the languages of Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu.

The Victorian Minister or Multicultural Affairs, Robin Scott, dropped in for a short time and gave a moving speech on the importance of studying languages and culture.

After lunch there were presentations about Indian languages at the tertiary level, namely at La Trobe University and the ANU, with a broadcast from the Sanskrit lecturer from ANU. He was followed by a presentation by Holger Nord on the topic “Beyond the educational scope – The importance of teaching and learning Indian languages in Australia.”



After this the teachers got together in their language group to discuss what their next steps should be.

The event finished with a tribute on the life and contribution of Dr Dinesh Srivastava, a pioneer of the teaching of Hindi in Australia, who passed away earlier this year.

Posted in events, Globalisation, growing up bilingual, Hindi, Punjabi | Tagged , , , ,

Growth in Aboriginal Languages

In the July edition of The Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority Bulletin, there is a very interesting article on the state of Aboriginal language programs in Victorian schools.

Aboriginal Language learning in Victorian schools began in 2012 in two pilot schools. It has now expanded to 10.

Read more:




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Globally Oriented Education

Joel Backwell

By Joel Backwell, Executive Director, International Education Division, Early Childhood and School Education Group, Department of Education and Training.

A globally oriented education system is crucial to the economic future of Victoria, and to ensuring that our young people have the skills they need to succeed in an increasingly inter-connected world. International education is central to the aspirations of Education State to “equip all students with the personal and practical skills to live the lives they want to live, and get the jobs they need”.


Hindi student performance

The modern workplace is increasingly globalised and employers must find employees who are not only technically proficient, but also culturally astute and able to thrive in a global work environment. Globalisation of jobs, trade and economies mean that young Australians will increasingly work globally, and have to navigate expanding cultural diversity both at home and abroad. While learning about other countries and cultures has always been a feature of education, in the 21st century schools should really be thinking about how to “internationalise”, so that a global outlook is at the core of their endeavours.

The importance of international education for all Victorian learners has been explicitly acknowledged by the reinforcement of languages and the inclusion of intercultural capabilities in the Victorian Curriculum F-10 and a focus on global citizenship in the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO). If properly harnessed and embedded into a school’s daily life, the different perspectives that come from studying alongside people from other countries, and learning about other cultures, will also stimulate critical and creative thinking, another key element of the Victorian Curriculum. DET’s International Education Division, which I lead, together with the Languages Unit, are jointly responsible for supporting schools to build the intercultural capabilities of their teachers and students and allow them to engage deeply with other countries and cultures. And what better way to do this than through learning another language.

Karen 3

Karen language of Myanmar achieves VCE accreditation

Across the course of my career I have benefitted both personally and professionally from having been able to speak both Indonesian and Spanish and I am very proud to live in a State that values the importance of language learning. In 2016, through the inspiring work of Victoria’s language teachers and assistants, 22 languages were taught in mainstream government schools, and the Victorian School of Languages provided programs to students in 49 languages.

Karen 2

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas presenting awards

Karen students sing a traditional song

Whether it is Chinese, Indonesian, French or in this case Karen, learning about other cultures through the lens of a second language will not only enhance the employability of Victorian students; it will also build the cohesiveness of a multicultural Victoria and allow us to better leverage the many benefits of cultural diversity. In the words of contemporary psycholinguist Frank Smith, “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way”.



Posted in bilingualism, Globalisation, Language debate | Tagged , , , , , ,

Training Language Teachers at the VSL

by Adriana Stojanovski

In recent years we have seen significant growth in the number of student teacher placements (praticums) at the VSL. These are cooperative arrangements with a number of universities. This year we had students from Victoria University, Melbourne University and Monash University.

This year we have begun a partnership with the Monash University Faculty of Education to offer placements for their trainee teachers. Eight students offering Chinese, German and Japanese have undertaken placements at various VSL Centres, insertion class programs and for a few days in Distance Education. Next year they are also hoping to undertake a large scale, tailored project for the training of Chinese teachers.

Dr Angela Fitzgerald – Monash University

Monash University Director of Professional Experience, Dr Angela Fitzgerald, says that these placements are “critical to the development of the students as they bridge the gap between university learning and the reality of teaching in a classroom.

They allow the student teachers to receive guidance, feedback and support as they become more confident in their real world teaching ability and identity. This partnership gives them a unique and enriching experience through the focused language-based learning and teaching that sets the VSL apart from other providers of language education.”

Katrina Du with her class

The trainee teachers come from a range of backgrounds; with some having been students of the VSL themselves while others have had little knowledge of the VSL before their placement. However, something that they all share is their passion for language teaching and the joy of seeing positive student reactions and results.

Oisin Collins

Chinese student teacher Oisin Collins explains how he has found it highly rewarding discovering which activities work and seeing students enjoy them and push themselves to further their learning through their own initiative. All student teachers are enjoying developing positive relationships with their students and gaining feedback from them.

Yuanyuan Zhang

Yuanyuan Zhang has found this aspect particularly rewarding, explaining that she has learnt “how to engage with these students” while Yang Zhou is pleased to have “found a good relationship with students.”

Nelly Yeung has enjoyed being able to “support her teaching with ideas and experience to share”.


ShiYing Li


While they have all reported their VSL placement as a positive experience, it has, of course, not been without its challenges. Yoon Ji Lee has discovered that “preparation is required for placement” while Shiying Li has had to learn “a different teaching and learning system”.




Lucy Ho

Lucy Ho explains how she has found it challenging catering to “the range of levels and abilities in one class”, which has been something that many of the other trainee teachers have also experienced.

This is a point of difference that the VSL has from standard ‘day school’, however Oisin Collins believes that “what we make of that difference is the exciting part”.

However, they all feel that they are progressing well, continually learning and deepening their understanding of class patterns and dynamics. In addition, they are taking on feedback from their mentors and feel very well supported by all VSL staff.

Clementine Roussel

Student teachers have described the VSL as, “welcoming”, “professional” and “fantastic”.

Clementine Roussel explains how she has “discovered a beautiful group of dedicated teachers and a great range of subjects”, while Katrina Du has already decided that she wants to apply for a job at the VSL in the future.


Congratulations to all of them for a productive placement and progress on the path to becoming teachers.


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Q & A with Carlos Franco – teacher of Spanish


¡Hola! My name is Carlos Franco and I teach Spanish at our VSL Collingwood College Centre.

 I’ve been at the VSL since 2011.

 The most important thing I take into the classroom each week is that every child should attend fun lessons and go home well-aware of what they have learnt.

 What I love about Spanish language teaching is that there are so many connections between English and Spanish which make it possible to create an enjoyable learning environment. Particularly at the VSL, we have children whose families either have Hispanic background, a passion for languages or just a growing love for one of the many nations Spanish relates to.

 Currently I am working in updating an online feeder for my class to continue encouraging weekly revision and language use happening on weekdays.

 My advice to parents is that they establish communication with the language teacher so they can keep track of what their children are learning on Saturdays. By doing so, parents would find it easier to put their children’s new learning and language skills into practice in everyday situations.

 The books that changed my life are Zoom and Listos. These Spanish teaching textbooks have great sequence of skills and effective learning activities to achieve outcomes.

 The most inspirational figures in my life are my former school teachers who complemented all the academic and life learning happening at home. A good phrase I remember from my school years is ‘Education liberates you’.

 The regional food I love most is ‘Papa a la Huancaina’. The tricky thing is to pick and choose one from the over 400 different types of potatoes we have in Peru, my native country. However, the sauce can be ready in seconds. You need to blend your favourite type of cheese, pepper crackers, yellow chilli, a few garlic corms, milk and salt to your taste. Then, pour the sauce onto sliced cooked potatoes bedded on lettuce and add some olives rings and finely chopped coriander on top.

 My favourite website in Spanish is Spanish Kids Stuff. I also recommend Risas y sonrisas and Rockalingua for teachers.

 My favourite artist is Chespirito, a Mexican gentleman who revolutionised comedy in Spanish and made Mexico very famous through his creative TV show called ‘El Chavo del 8’. Through this, we learnt Mexican people called boys ‘chavos’ and girls ‘chavas’.

 My favourite expression is ¡Vamos…rápido, rápido!

 What I love to do most when I visit a Spanish speaking country is to interact with locals and of course, try home-made hearty meals.

 My favourite app is for children to build up their knowledge and,  if they wish to advance a bit more.

Posted in Spanish, teachers, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Learning Chinese as a second language

There has been a fair bit of media attention in recent months about the relatively low completion rates of Chinese language by non background students. We thought we might present a couple of examples offering the alternative perspective. Here are the thoughts of two students who studied Chinese in 2016.

I Love to Learn Chinese Language

                                                                                                        – Eloise Ford

My name is Eloise and I am a language fan. I have studied French, Italian and Chinese this year. I started learning Chinese last year. Since the very beginning, I was so enchanted by the language that, sometimes, I feel like I am simply addicted to the sound of Chinese. The Chinese language is pleasant to hear, its grammar is simple too. The most interesting thing is the Chinese script. Chinese characters, are not only the symbol of the language record, but also a kind of art; it is fascinating and artistic. I study the Chinese language every day, and I do not feel tired at all; to do what you love is happiness!eloise

Nowadays there are many high school students unwilling to learn Chinese. They say Chinese is too difficult, especially the tones and characters. Someone asked me how I could learn six years of Chinese courses in less than two years. My thinking is that although the pronunciation of Chinese is difficult, the pronunciation of the other languages is not easy either; in terms of Chinese characters, you might have difficulties at the beginning. However as long as you can remember the two hundred plus characters from the Years 7 and 8 (courses), then you will get used to character writing, and will then not find it difficult. I have remembered more than one thousand characters now. I’m preparing to complete Year 12 (Chinese) study at the end of this year.

This is my fifth year studying at the Victorian School of Languages. I like the distance education mode very much, because I live in a rural area and it is not easy (for me) to go to school. It is convenient to have lessons on the phone; besides (that), the contents of the courses are plentiful, all the explanations are clear, which makes comprehension much easier and all the teachers are very friendly, warm-hearted and helpful.


I study Chinese at the Victorian School of Languages

            – Anand Bharadwaj

Hi everyone! My name is Anand. I am a student at Trinity Grammar School, Melbourne.  I am in Year 10. The subjects I am studying this year are Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, French and English. Besides these, I also study Latin and Chinese at the Victorian School of Languages, Distance Education.anand

I like their Chinese teaching materials very much, because they not only help me to remember new words, read texts, practise listening comprehension and reading comprehension, they also introduce me to a variety of interesting content, this includes watching documentaries about Chinese culture and history, etc. In addition, I call my teacher to practise oral exercises every week. When I have something I do not understand, my teacher always helps me patiently. Once my teacher told me: “There is a Chinese idiom which says ‘Many little drops make an ocean’ (From little things big things grow). Learning Chinese is the process of ‘From little things big things grow’; if you want to succeed, you not only need to strive hard continuously, you must also have confidence in yourself.” These words not only inspire me to study Chinese seriously, it also encourages me to be a Chinese language fan.

In brief, studying Chinese at the VSL has been an enriching experience for me.

Posted in bilingualism, Chinese, Language debate | Tagged ,

Premier’s Awards 2017

On Thursday 27 April, the 23nd Premier’s VCE Awards were held at Palladium at Crown.

Minister Merlino

The main presenter was the Minister for Education and Deputy Premier, James Merlino. The aim of these annual awards is ‘to recognise some of Victoria’s best and brightest students’.



Annabelle Lim – Indonesian



A total of 49,801 students completed their VCE in 2016 and 287 students received 320 Premier’s Awards across 83 subjects.

For the third year in a row, the Victorian School of Languages was by far the best performing school in Victoria in the individual awards. The top eight performing schools were:

  • Victorian School of Languages -14 awards
  • MacRobertson Girls’ High school -8 awards
  • Melbourne Girls College – 7 awards
  • Scotch College -7 awards
  • Haileybury Girls’ College – 6 awards
  • Methodist Ladies College – 6 awards
  • Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School – 5 awards
  • Balwyn High School -5 awards

Maria Hincapie-Gallego (Spanish)

Alicja Orlowska – Polish

Alessia Hysa – Italian

This is a great team effort and we would like to thank all of the teachers of the Victorian School of Languages, not just the VCE, who have worked with the students over the past thirteen years to improve their skills and prepare them for their individual careers. Thank you also to the parents who have encouraged their children to make a great effort and to all of the school principals who direct their students to the classes of the Victorian School of Languages.  And, of course, congratulations to the students themselves who have performed at an exceptionally high level. The students are:

  1. Alessia Hysa  – Italian – Brunswick
  2. Gracia Arwi – Indonesian 2nd Language – Glen Waverley
  3. Annabelle Lim – Indonesian 2nd Language – Glen Waverley
  4. Tayebeh Ahmadi – Persian – Dandenong
  5. Diana Avel – Romanian –Dandenong
  6. Victor Dobre – Romanian –Dandenong
  7. Ayse  Bozdag – Turkish – Dandenong
  8. Alicja Orlowska – Polish – Dandenong
  9. Sandeli Loku Narangoda – Sinhala – Brentwood
  10. Maria Hincapie-Gallego – Spanish – Haileybury
  11. Elsin Tchaba – ArabicRoxburgh
  12. Tien Phan -  Vietnamese -  Westall
  13. Seo Yeon Sohn – Korean 2nd Language – Blackburn
  14. Patricia Sumargo – Indonesian 2nd language – Distance Education

    Gracie Arwi – Indonesian

    Diana Arwell – Romanian

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