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 www.duolingo.com for children to build up their knowledge and, www.hellomylo.com  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

Posted in award winners, bilingualism, Uncategorized, VCE Top Scorers | Tagged

From the archives: The origins of Italian at the VSL in 1935 Catherine Bryant


When I started researching the school’s history for my PhD, I discovered the fascinating story about the origins of Italian teaching at the school.


Mr J.A. Seitz, Chief Inspector of Secondary Schools

In 1935, there had been a strong push for the establishment of Italian and a high profile meeting was held in Melbourne, which was attended by many academics and influential figures in the education field.  The President of the Dante Alighieri Society also supported this move, and wrote to the Education Department, urging them to introduce Italian into the Victorian education system. Mr J.A. Seitz, the Chief Inspector of Secondary Schools, supported the establishment of Italian.

Study of Italian

The Argus, 3 June 1935

The first Italian classes were held on Saturday 8th of June 1935 at MacRobertson Girls High School as a “special experiment”. The idea was to trial the classes as a pilot, to ascertain the level of interest among Victorian students. If the classes were overwhelmed with enrolments, Education Department officials would consider rolling the Italian curriculum out to a small number of mainstream schools. The decision to establish Italian was a historic one, because up until that time, Italian was not being taught in any Victorian government schools. These events were reported in the Melbourne newspapers (see article).

The high profile Italian businessman Gualtiero Vaccari supported the Italian classes by donating fifty guineas in prize money. The prizes were awarded through the Italian Consulate to the highest achieving students and to the first day school to introduce the language into its curriculum. One of the prizewinners was Miss Wilga Rivers, a student at MacRobertson Girls’ High School.  She later recalled “the enthusiasm of the students and the happy atmosphere in the class”.  With her knowledge of Italian, she went on to study other languages and she later lived in the U.S. where she completed a PhD. In 1973 she became one of the first women to be appointed a full Professor at Harvard University, where she played a key role in the languages department.


MacRobertson Girls High School, where the first Saturday classes were held


The Dante Aligieri Society also supplied the early teachers. In 1935, one of the original teachers was Dr Bartolini, and the teacher in charge was Miss Helen Byrne. A graduate of the University of Melbourne, Byrne had just returned from a year at university in Perugia on a postgraduate scholarship. She had just gained a “diploma per l’insegnamento del Italiano all’estero” which gave her the right to teach Italian in foreign schools. From 1941 onwards, Mr Virgil Cain taught Italian at the school, which he did in earnest until 1964.

In 1935, it was not only children who attended the Italian classes. A special class for teachers was also formed. Education Department officials recognised that this was an important long term step towards helping the language to be established on a solid footing in Victoria. The teachers were charged £1.1.0 per term for 12 lessons.

Ital Grammar

Russo’s Practical Italian Grammar, one of the early Italian language textbooks

At that time, languages were taught in a traditional way, which was the grammar translation method. The emphasis was on syntax and grammar, and classroom activities often involved dictation and translation. As Jim Wheeler, a student of Italian from 1945 remembered:  “The language of instruction was English. I doubt that I ever heard our teacher speak Italian. I had no practice at speaking Italian except for frustrating attempts at the local Preston greengrocers – where they spoke Sicilian.”

The early attendance rolls of the Saturday classes show that it was English background speaking children who enrolled in the classes.  Language study in the 1930s and 1940s was still considered important “training for the mind” and it was often a prerequisite for university entry. In this sense, language study was an elite pursuit. Students who gave up their Saturday mornings to attend the Italian language classes generally came from middle class families and they had already excelled at either French or Latin in their day schools. It would not be until 1956 that this emphasis on Italian ‘high culture’ would gradually begin to shift and it would start to contain features of a community language.

Posted in History, Italian, MacRobertson Girls High School, Uncategorized, VSL Vault | Tagged , ,

Launch of Chin Hakha VCE courses and textbooks

On Saturday 29 October the VSL held a historic function to launch new Chin Hakha VCE Textbooks for Year 11 and Year 12. At the same time there was a presentation of awards to the inaugural Chin Hakha Year 12 students from the Croydon and Sunshine VSL Centres. The launch was held at the Croydon Road campus of Melba College which hosts a VSL Centre.

This was one of the most important VSL functions of the past decade and a world first. The settlers from Myanmar are relatively new arrivals to Victoria and Australia and they have come from refugee camps in Thailand and Malaysia. Some of the community have spent many years in these camps.  In addition, they were not able to study the language formally in their country of origin. (Chin Hakha is only taught to lower primary levels in Myanmar). They are absolutely delighted that in Victoria classes for their language were taught and funded by an official arm of a Government’s Department of Education.

The joint collaboration between the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, the Victorian School of Languages and the Chin Hakha Community has culminated in Chin Hakha being formally taught to Year 12 level. 2016 has seen the first Year 12 Chin Hakha graduation. This accomplishment is a world first.

According to the VSL principal, Mr Frank Merlino, there has long been a demand to increase the number of languages and classes in the Croydon area. “The VSL is delighted to assist emerging communities to forge partnerships with educational bodies in order to assist with language delivery for their community. This leads to a wider language curriculum choice for primary and secondary students from the government, Catholic and Independent school sectors” he said.


A section of the audience

World renowned Professor Joseph Lo Bianco addressed the invited guests, parents and students on the global importance of language learning, the integration of immigrant children into mainstream schools and multiculturalism. He is Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Melbourne and has extensive experience in global language policy development. He has been visiting Myanmar for the past seven years to work with the authorities on language planning including a UNESCO project to include minority languages in mainstream education.

Professor Joseph Lo Bianco

Mr Terrance Bennett, the Principal of Melba College spoke of the great partnership between his school and the Victorian School of Languages where there are now 19 VSL classes. Mr Bennett said that, “in a global society, the study of languages helps promote global understanding; social cohesiveness and can significantly enhance students prospects in the future.” Melba College is keen to promote the study of languages in the Maroondah area in partnership with the VSL.

The launch was done by Mr Shaun Leane representing the Premier. He praised the initiative and thanked a variety of people who had assisted in the achievement of this milestone. This included the author, Mr Lian Ding Hmung, the first cohort of students, the Victorian Department of Education, the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, VSL teachers and administrative staff, the Chin Hakha language panel and community members.


Mr Lian Ding Hmung

Mr Lian Ding Hmung who is both the Chairperson of the Australian Chin Community and the writer of the two VCE textbooks spoke about the project. The final speaker was Mr Salai Bawi Lian Mang who is the Executive Director of the Chin Human Rights Organisation and is based in the United States.


Some of the guests

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority had a large delegation composed of the John Firth (CEO), Maree Dellora (Manager of Languages), Gabriella Bertolissi and Xenophon Arthanidis. There were representatives from neighbouring schools including Christina Shaw (Principal of Yarra Hills SC), Alex Perry from the Blackburn English Language School and obviously from Melba College. Representing the VSL administration were Antonella Cicero, Joanne Lepore, Kevin Ryan, Pashalia Eglezos, Belinda Borkowski and Frank Merlino. Also in attendance were the VSL School Council President, Dr Bruno Maschitelli, Andrew Hay from Independent Schools Victoria and a number of senior representatives from Burmese community organisations.


The first Chin Hakha VCE graduates

After the speeches there were three student performances by students from the Mizo, Karen and Chin Hakha classes. The function concluded by the awarding of Certificates to the first ever cohort of Year 12 students.


A Chin Hakha dance


The VSL taught the language at the Year 12 VCE this year to 29 students from the Croydon Centre and seven from the Sunshine Centre.

Congratulations to the graduating students, and Mr Lian Ding Hmung, author of the textbooks.

Posted in bilingualism, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

When one language isn’t enough…

According to the British Council, more than half of the world’s population functions in two or more languages on a daily basis. In other words, multilingualism, not monolingualism, is the norm and for some students, learning just one language other than English is not enough.selma

Selma Makas is a student who is currently studying VCE Units 1 and 2 Italian at her home school, Belmont High School, whilst also completing VCE Units 3 and 4 Bosnian at the Victorian School of Languages. Both languages will contribute towards her ATAR. Here are some of her thoughts about her language learning experience so far.

–          What languages do you study?

I am currently studying Year 11 VCE Italian and I am in my final year of VCE Bosnian, (Year 12) which I have been studying on Saturdays over the past 11 years at the Victorian School of Languages.

–          Do you get confused between the two languages?

If I do get confused between the two languages it is times when I nearly say Bosnian words instead of Italian ones. But when speaking in Bosnian, for example, I would automatically think that word in English and Italian. So, in my brain I am constantly automatically translating what I am saying or thinking in all three languages.

–          Does language learning get easier or harder once you already have one under your belt?

Luckily for me, my parents brought me up speaking Bosnian, explaining the fact it is my first language. I truly believe it is a blessing. It would be sad for me to not have learnt my mother-tongue and let it die off in a foreign country.

Having one refugee and one immigrant parent, both fresh from war-torn Bosnia, their English was nowhere near good enough to be able to teach me. As a child growing up, in primary school, I had trouble learning English because I wasn’t surrounded by it as much in my early years. I did have many grammatical issues through primary school but once I got into high school, reading books, being more attentive to my word choices and sentence structure, I was able to overcome that obstacle. As they say, things won’t come to you all by themselves, unless you do something to get them. Study and putting into practice those skills you have learnt is the best way to improve in any language.

After learning how to master a second language, I realised it was easier to learn any language now. From then, it all just came so easily to me, without one struggle. I realised this in my primary school years, when learning Indonesian, Japanese and even some German. What I found when I learnt another language was that I would subconsciously use my knowledge of another language. E.g. using Bosnian when learning Italian by using my knowledge of similar words and grammar structure. As you keep on learning any language, this flow on effect takes place. Prior knowledge of any language will make it easier for you to learn another language, it is the way the brain works. It is truly fascinating.

–          What made you decide to study two languages at the same time?

I didn’t have trouble learning Italian during high school and I enjoyed it. To be honest, I was tossing up whether I should or shouldn’t study two languages at once, especially because I am doing year 12 Bosnian. I got scared I wouldn’t do well at either language and that I would get even more confused by learning two VCE languages at once. But I was clearly more wrong than ever and keeping up Italian was the best decision I made! Rather, it made my learning of both languages much easier. Completing Year 12 Bosnian also gave me a heads up for what I am to expect next year for Italian.

–          Do you think languages could help you in your future career?

Knowing languages other than English can give you many more employment opportunities. These days many people believe, “I know English, I don’t need any other language. English is spoken everywhere.” Statistics show employers are more likely to choose you over other candidates if you know languages other than English. Funny that, my current retail employer said that a hiring point was that I know many languages, it is what they need to cater and support many shoppers in the community. Especially because Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian are so similar, I can speak all and understand them fluently

–          How do you find managing your time whilst studying a subject outside of normal school hours?

Well I think it isn’t just about managing time but actively learning and incorporating that language in your everyday life. Even if it is just in your mind and not out aloud. When you have parents who are teachers they are constantly nagging you to study more for my Bosnian even though I do complete everything (ha ha ha!). I think for learning any language, it is not good to do study sessions for a flat out hour or two, because you lose interest and can’t focus. That is why it is better if you do even 15 minutes or half an hour each day. Studying is useless if you aren’t putting your skills and knowledge into practice. I study mainly on Friday night for Bosnian because it will be fresh in my mind for Saturday, but speaking about my school work and just in general at home with my mum and dad is a great studying method for me.

–          Have you ever been to Bosnia / Italy? Would you like to go?

To Italy, I have yet not been, but it is surely something I am looking into, and cannot wait for it to happen. On the other hand, to Bosnia I have been many times in my life and created many life time memories there from my toddler years through to my early teens. Bosnia is my home just as much as Australia is. It is just within, deep in my heart that I feel that deep connection, especially because 95% of my family is over there, it is my culture, my language and way of life which makes me feel that I belong over there too. There is a difference between a house and a home.

–          Would you recommend studying more than one language? Why/why not?

I think it is so sad that many people dump the opportunity of learning a language be it Italian or Indonesian, especially when it is for FREE! Many people have an “I can’t be bothered” attitude towards learning foreign languages and I think it is mainly because they think English will get them through life and it’s all they need in this world. It is also that “minimum effort” attitude people have towards education in general. Nothing in life comes to you without studying and hard work, I am sorry to break the news here. As they say, languages open many windows of opportunities for you in life. You never know where life will take you and it is in the moments you least expect that you could possibly end up using your knowledge of another language. All in all, I encourage people to study more than one language if they enjoy it and are ready to commit. It is just that people see it as hard when they haven’t even tried. You will be amazed when you start learning another language how your brain starts working and linking things like a wired circuit in your brain.

–          You are currently studying year 12 Bosnian. Are there any tips you would like to share with other year 12 students of languages?

–     Active learning is a number one tip, especially if you are still in the process of getting the gist of a language – watch movies, read articles you like, write diary entries, listen to songs, make flash-cards. This is the great thing about languages – you can easily active learn.

–     As for when it comes to Year 12 and this can also be year 11, ask your teachers for help and advice! They are your best resource. I highly recommend writing pieces of work and constantly asking your teacher to check and ask tips on how to improve and expand your vocabulary choice.

–     Make sure you get your grammar on point! Once you get grammar concepts under your sleeve learning new words based on topics and writing and utilising them will be easier.

–     The closer you get to year 12, past exam papers are your best resource and ultimately your best friend. The hardest is listening and responding because of the speed which examiners speak with,+ so I highly recommend doing a lot of those. They can be found on the VCAA website.

–     When you have the opportunity to speak in that language, speak it!

–     Oh can we say food also counts as a study tip? 😉

Good luck! In bocca al lupo! Sretno!

Posted in bilingualism, Bosnian, growing up bilingual, Italian, Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

From the archives: The origins of Japanese at the VSL in 1935 Catherine Bryant

When I started researching the school’s history for my PhD project, I discovered the fascinating story about the origins of Japanese teaching at the school.

Seitz 2

Mr J.A. Seitz, Chief Inspector of Secondary Schools Photo: The Education Gazette, 23 February 1945

The first Saturday Japanese class was held early in 1935 at MacRobertson Girls High School. Mr J.A. Seitz, the Chief Inspector of Secondary Schools, supported the establishment of Japanese as a “special experiment”. The idea was to trial the Japanese classes as a pilot, to ascertain the level of interest among Victorian students. If the classes were overwhelmed with enrolments, Education Department officials would consider rolling the Japanese curriculum out to a small number of mainstream schools.

At that time, the VSL was not actually a school. It did not have a name. But this curriculum innovation was a historic development, because Japanese was not being taught in any government school at the time. But education department officials knew it was necessary for Victorian children to develop an understanding of Japan, which was fast becoming a powerful trading partner. They hoped that Japanese could eventually be introduced into the curriculum of one or two metropolitan high schools.

Japanese article

The Age, 12 February 1935

Amelia Pittman

Amelia Pittman

Irene Ryan

Irene Ryan

The exact date of the first Japanese class is unknown, but they started early in 1935 and more than 50 students enrolled. The teachers were Miss Irene Catherine Ryan, a French teacher from Williamstown High School, and Miss Amelia Pittman from Sandringham Primary School. They had studied Japanese for several years at the University of Melbourne, where it was taught by Mr Moshi Inagaki. Inagaki’s Japanese program only existed on the fringes of the university and it was not widely accepted. It was only offered as an extra subject and did not belong to any faculty.  Despite this, and being paid very little, Inagaki worked enthusiastically to promote Japanese. It is thought that Inagaki supported the establishment of the Saturday classes.

Miss Ryan

Miss Ryan teaching Japanese in 1936 The Herald, 25 July 1936

In 1939, in recognition of their valuable work in developing Japanese studies in Victoria, Miss Ryan and Miss Pittman were invited on a tour of Japan, sponsored by the Japanese education authorities. Today, a study tour to Japan would seem quite ordinary. But in the interwar years in Australia, this was such an unusual and novel event that it was reported in the newspapers around Australia. At that time, Australians new little about Japan but it seemed exotic and they were interested in it. Miss Ryan and Miss Pittman were interviewed on the radio about their impressions of Japan. They remarked that the Japanese people were charming, they were impressed by the Japanese schools, and that “the children had as much freedom as Australians and were just as happy.”


When the war broke out, Japanese language study went out of favour in Victoria. The idea to expand the Japanese curriculum into mainstream schools was shelved. Japanese was not introduced into mainstream secondary schools until many decades later. Mr Inagaki, who had worked so enthusiastically to establish Japanese language studies in Melbourne, was sent to an internment camp in Tatura in country Victoria, along with all other Japanese nationals, who were treated as “enemy aliens”. Throughout the war, the number of students who enrolled in the Saturday classes dwindled to such an extent that education department officials started to question the viability of the classes. But Seitz resisted this pressure and was adamant that they continue. Thanks to the vision of Seitz, who understood the value of language education, the Saturday language classes continued uninterrupted until the present day.


Nesta Potts (nee Doherty), a student of Japanese 1939-1941. Photo courtesy V. Brand and family.

Japanese book

Colloquial Japanese, W.M. McGovern

In conducting this research, I was very fortunate to make contact with one of the early students of Japanese. This was the late Mrs Nesta Potts (nee Doherty), a lovely lady who studied Japanese for three years on Saturdays at MacRobertson Girls High School, starting in 1939. When I met Nesta in 2013, she was in her late eighties, and was thrilled to be interviewed and to share her memories. Nesta was excited to show me her treasured Japanese textbook, Colloquial Japanese, by W.M. McGovern, which she had kept for more than seventy years. Her interest in Japanese study was initially sparked by her mother who loved Japanese art. Nesta recalled the “lovely atmosphere” of the Japanese classes. I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a sixteen year old in 1939, and I guess that Japanese language study on a Saturday must have been quite an adventurous and exciting activity for a young woman to pursue.

After leaving school, Nesta joined Army Education, where she taught unit education officers, and she was able to continue her Japanese study. Nesta also had several opportunities to use her Japanese language skills in her working life. During the war, she was responsible for communicating with a Japanese prisoner of war. Later, Nesta became a teacher in the Education Department with a focus on Special Education, and eventually became a Principal. As Principal, there were occasions when she welcomed delegations of visiting Japanese teachers to her school. She recalled delighting them with her ability to speak Japanese.  For a student and teacher of Japanese myself, meeting Nesta was a moving experience and it was an absolute highlight of my time as a research student.

Posted in History, Japanese, Language debate, Uncategorized, VSL Vault | Tagged , , , , ,