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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Language Acquisition

Language is integral to exploring and sustaining personal development, cultural identity and intercultural understanding.

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As well as being the major medium of social communication, language is tightly linked to cognitive growth as it is the process by which meaning and knowledge is negotiated and constructed. It is the main tool for building our knowledge of the universe and our place in it. Language, then, is central to learning, as well as to literacy, and is thus closely related to success in school.

As a result of the global population’s increasing mobility, many learners in schools are constructing knowledge in a language that is not their mother tongue. A language profile of any one of these learners may demonstrate two or more languages in his or her continuum.

At Preshil, our secondary students study a variety of languages and we are pleased to share with you some insights below:

Year 7 French

Unit: À table
Tasks: Answer questions about your food choices; Create slides using different subject pronouns and -ER verb endings
Statement of Inquiry: Our knowledge of cultural diversity develops when we understand the meaning of cultural traditions in different contexts.
Learning Intention: To be able to speak about foods in French and use -ER verbs correctly when writing.

For the last few weeks, Year 7 have been developing their understanding of how verbs work in French, and how verb endings change depending on the various different subject pronouns that are used: e.g. Je mange, tu manges, il/elle/iel mange and so on. They have put these verbs into a slideshow presentation to present to the class. Further to this, they have each completed a speaking assessment where they answered questions such as “Qu’est-ce que tu aimes manger?” (What do you like to eat?) and “Qu’est-ce que tu prends pour le petit-dejeuner?” (What do you have for breakfast?) I enjoyed viewing their playful slideshows and they all demonstrated how far they’ve come this year by answering the speaking questions with confidence.

Year 8 Japanese

Unit: Where to? Who with? どこに? だれと? なんで?
Tasks: Learn dates and days of the week, then use a calendar to create a holiday plan, and have a conversation about their proposed activities
Statement of Inquiry: Language patterns allow me to communicate my activities and adventures.
Learning Intention: To be able to speak about what I am doing, when I am doing it, where I am doing it and how I am getting there, using particles correctly.

Over the last term, students have been learning Japanese months, dates and days of the week. They have created mnemonics to help them remember the kanji and enjoyed singing along to a rap of Japanese dates, whilst also learning about some key Japanese public holidays. Students then built on this knowledge to communicate about their activities – where they are going, with whom, by which means of transport, and on what date. Students enjoyed rearranging the words in sentences made of flashcards, and making up silly sentences together. Students have also learned about the Japanese shinkansen bullet train network. To complete this unit, students planned an imaginary holiday, prepared a calendar of activities, and then had conversations explaining their schedule and why they chose these activities.

French in the Middle Years – Paris, Je T’aime. 

For the last two weeks of term, our Year 8s and 9s are learning about all things Paris, and how the City of Lights has captured our imagination. We started the unit by talking about the psychological phenomenon, Paris Syndrome in which tourists who are so disappointed by Paris, fall into a deep depression. The Japanese embassy expatriates about 80 tourists a year owing to this, and has a dedicated hotline to support its citizens. We will also unpack the works of the impressionist movement, and look how this group of artists in the 18th arrondissement shaped modern art even reaching the shores of Australia. We also explore the complex legacy of Coco Chanel who lived in the Ritz hotels in the 1st Arrondissement. 

Year 9 Japanese

Unit: Moving house  ひっこし
Tasks: Learn directions and locations, and be able to differentiate between the location of animate and inanimate objects through the correct choice of verb, to write a report on their house for a Japanese school newspaper.
Statement of Inquiry: The environment and culture influences building and construction of homes.
Learning Intention: To be able to describe where objects are located, and to be able to describe the layout and ambiance of a house.

Over recent weeks, students have learned about directions and locations, whilst developing the vocabulary and grammar to be able to specify the location of and to describe different items. In this unit, students have discussed the differences between Australian and Japanese homes and reflected on what this tell us about different societies. Students also began to learn kanji with an increased focus, slowly building up their repertoire of Chinese logographic characters. Students are currently synthesising their learning by writing a short article for an imaginary Japanese school newspaper, describing their Australian house.

Early Commencement Programme 

Welcome to French B and Spanish Ab Initio! Recently, we welcome the Year 10 students into the Early Commencement Programme. We wish them all the best in the beginning of this exciting journey! We are currently unpacking the course outline, criteria and assessments in French, and those doing Spanish are understanding the basics of Spanish, and learning to say their name, age, nationality and likes and dislikes. Bonne chance and Suerte to all the Year 10s!

Year 11 French – Félicitations aux années onze!

The Year 11 students completed their exams this year. And we congratulate them on reaching the halfway mark in the DP. The students completed an exam focusing on responding to unseen aural and written texts. Earlier in the term, the students worked through the third of five themes studied in the course, Social Organisation. In particular, students explored social engagement, French charities, and the world of work. We were incredibly inspired by two charities in particular, Les Restaurants du coeur, who provide meals to the homeless, and Médecins sans Frontières, also known as Doctors without Borders. Another highlight of the term was learning how to apply for work in France. We had enormous fun navigating French job sites for our dream jobs, and learning how to write a cover letter in French to apply for them. 

Year 12 French – Au revoir les années douze!

We have farewelled our year 12 students in late October, having completed their final exams for French. For a final lesson, we spent the morning having tea and macarons, reminiscing about our favourite things about learning French. The students were gifted with a copy of Les Monsieur Madame a Paris. For their final exams, the students complete 3 papers in total focusing on their reading, listening and writing skills. Pictured is the French class of 2022 with Simone in her beret, also featured is our class plant, Baguette (also known as Jean-Luc) who is lovingly taken care of in the French classroom by French students of all year levels. 

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