Wesley College Melbourne Australia
Wesley College Melbourne

Leading in languages - a new approach

Posted 29 January 2017
Students learning Mandarin Chinese

There is no better time to be learning languages at Wesley College. Last year, Wesley’s Elsternwick campus pioneered a new approach to teaching Chinese (Mandarin) to early childhood and Junior School students. Following the success of the Enhanced Language Program (ELP) at the Elsternwick campus, 2017 will see the rollout of the program across both the St Kilda Road and Glen Waverley campuses of Wesley College. 

The innovative initiative called Enhanced Language Program integrates language learning with other disciplines across the curriculum.  This means 50 minutes of every day is dedicated to Chinese language learning and is uniquely incorporated across the science, technology, health and humanities curricula.  This contrasts with mainstream language models, which typically comprise one or two stand-alone lessons per week. 

“The significant increase in time, frequency and intensity of the language teaching increases interest and proficiency for our students in Chinese without impacting on the broad range of specialist disciplines and the curriculum time dedicated to other subject areas” says Jacinta Janssens, Head of Campus, Elsternwick. 

This integrated approach means Chinese is taught through elements of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, giving students a meaningful context to both language and content.  This constant "dance" between content and language development is facilitated by skilled language teachers and their collaboration with classroom teachers as they plan, teach and assess alongside each other.

Students recognise the pace at which they are learning the language, which greatly boosts their confidence in using the language and - most importantly - engagement with, and joy in, the process of language acquisition.  This is essential for the global world of the 21st century, and a key reason why Wesley selected Chinese – a truly world language - as the language of choice for the rollout of the Enhanced Language Program.

“To see our youngest children of 3, 4 and 5 years of age so readily engaging, responding to and using Chinese through conversation, song and play is just so inspiring. Research highlights that the younger a child is, the more open to learning new ways of communicating they are and our observations are evidence of such. This openness and motivation will undoubtedly support their growing levels of proficiency” says Jacinta.    

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