Students see benefits of learning second language
STUDENTS who have switched on to the many benefits including career opportunities that come from having a second language will showcase their skills at the University of the Sunshine Coast this weekend.
More than 500 students drawn from schools between Gympie and North Brisbane will take part in the 7th annual Sunshine Coast Modern Language Teachers Association competition on Sunday, an event expected to attract more than 2000 people to the university.
Sunshine Coast Modern Language Teachers Association president Louise Vale said the record entries were being driven by both the enthusiasm and passion of teachers and a growing awareness among students and parents of the career benefits of a second language.
Students were also being engaged through the online Language Perfect teaching tool developed by New Zealand's Department of Education.
Free trials of the Kiwi system have been made available to Queensland students who have access to only two 40-minute class room lessons a week.
Mrs Vale said although teaching time was restricted, self-driven students with parental support were developing strong language skills on the Sunshine Coast.
At Cooroy teacher Oj Rugins is using a Canadian developed Accelerative Integrated Method which relies on gestures associated with words to improve recall.
He describes the approach as being as good as an immersion program.
Queensland has compulsory language education in years six, seven and eight which will expand to include Year Five next year.
Depending on school timetables, students in other classes also gain exposure to language education.
This Sunday's competition will test Year 4 to 7 students with their ability to recite a memorised speech in another language. Years 8-9 will also have a formatted speech but of greater complexity while years 10 to 12 will prepare and deliver a two to three-minute speech on a specific subject.
Student entries in a poster competition and writing exercise will also be on display this Sunday.
Sunshine Coast schools teach languages including Chinese, Indonesian, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese all of which will have students competing on Sunday.
The day is being sponsored by the University, the Modern Language Teachers Association of Queensland, Education Queensland, the COASIT Italian Language Centre, the Swiss Embassy, Language Perfect and the Japan Foundation.
It will cap a weekend of activities at the university recognising cultural diversity ahead of next month's Queensland Cultural Diversity Week.
The University of the Sunshine Coast student cohort includes 69 cultures.
On Saturday it will host the Sunshine Coast Interfaith and Multicultural Hypothetical Forum (and Cafe) from 9am to 12.30pm.
Jewish Rabbi John D Cooper, Sensei Barry Farrin from the Forestway Zen Buddhist Centre, USC's own Indonesian specialist Dr Phillip Mahnken and representatives from Muslim, Christian, Baha'i and Indigenous communities are all confirmed starters.
They will discuss a hypothetical topic set in the year 2020, when Malcolm Turnbull is Prime Minister, state governments have been dissolved and the Sunshine Coast has been sequestered as a region for the formation of a "diversity metropolis".
The forum is open to the public. Prospective participants can register on the day or email firstname.lastname@example.org.