Asian language curriculum pioneer

"Konnichi wa", "ni hao" and "annyeong haseyo" are greetings commonly heard in the classrooms of Marsden High School and its partner schools.

The school, in Sydney's north-west, offers three languages - Japanese, Mandarin and Korean - and is pioneering the Asian language curriculum.

Its strategy dovetails with the Federal Government's Asia in the Australian Century White Paper released in October 2012, which sets targets to make learning about Asia "business as usual for every Australian school and every Australian student".

Success recognised

We are hoping that by moving the program into the partner primary schools we ignite an interest in Asian languages ... Sheryn Symon
Marsden High head teacher


Marsden High's approach was so successful it was recently selected as one of only three schools in Australia to take part in videos being produced by the Asia Education Foundation (AEF).

The videos will illustrate how schools are leading change to support Asia literacy.

Marsden High head teacher Sheryn Symons said the school had attracted national recognition because of its best-practice approach to Asian language learning.

"We feel these are important skills for our students to have, and so we've produced an outstanding program," Ms Symons said.

The school had also developed a cultural exchange program with its sister school Hanol Middle School in Korea.

Other initiatives the school had set up included Chinese and Korean principals touring Marsden High School and the creation of an Asia Literacy Wiki of resources and teaching materials.

Transition to high school initiative

However, one of its most innovative strategies was its primary school Asian language outreach program, which was acting as a powerful transition to high school initiative.

Each week a teacher in one of the three Asian languages from the high school conducted a lesson at its partner primary schools Ermington, West Ryde and Melrose Park.

The lesson was pitched at students in Years 5 and 6 and the language was rotated each term.

"It was geared towards a transition-to-school program. We wanted to develop some links with our primary schools and give them a flavour of some of the things Marsden could offer," Ms Symons said.

"We are hoping that by moving the program into the partner primary schools we ignite an interest in Asian languages and those students will come to Marsden High to continue their language learning."

Photo: Marsden High and partner primary school students explore Asian culture at Nan Tien Temple. By Tina Mo.


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