AICLS is a not for profit association funded by the NSW Department of Education’s Community Languages Schools Program (CLSP) to support out of school hours community language schools.
Community language schools are established by parents and teachers who have significant links with the communities who speak the language.
Classes are conducted for school age students between Kindergarten and Year 12. Languages are taught for 2 hours per week, outside school hours during school term time.
Classes are held in Public Schools, Community Halls and Churches.
Some language schools cater for adult learners as well. In addition to language many schools offer tuition in cultural activities such as dancing and singing.
Why study languages?
- promotes a sense of cultural identity resulting in heightened self—confidence and self-esteem
- helps students develop links with other communities and cultures.
- improves students’ performance across the curriculum through enhanced literacy skills which are transferable to English
- places students in a better position to take advantage of employment opportunities
- allows students to become sensitive global citizens
The advantage of language learning
Learning a second language can be extremely beneficial for children. Not only
will it help them academically but also socially and in their future career. The Association of Illawarra Community Language Schools Incorporated provides a means for children between the ages of four and 16 to learn or maintain a second language.
Dr Ken Cruickshank, Professor of Education at Sydney University, says that the Community Language Schools are a hidden treasure in our region. “Most of the teachers are volunteers. They work so hard, are so committed and they provide such a valuable service,” he said. “There are so many benefits of learning a second language. Academically, children who are bilingual will perform better at school than children who are monolingual, because children with a second language learn to think in a different way.”
Language learning is a vital way to ensure that the Illawarra’s diverse cultures remain strong in their identities. It gives children the opportunity to learn and maintain the languages their parents and grandparents brought with them when they settled in the region and also helps them to communicate with their family, who may not know much or any English.
“Often when kids go to school their first priority is to fit in with the other kids and speak English. Over time they use their other language less and less until they forget how to use it, which is something they usually regret later on in life,” Dr Cruickshank said. “It is really important for the community in the Illawarra to have a language school. We live in such a special region with so many languages and cultures. The more children know about their parent’s culture the more open they are to other cultures.”
In this globalised world, learning another language is becoming an essential skill. With international travel and jobs that require people to liaise with overseas clients or businesses, it is a distinct advantage.
“Knowing another language opens up so many opportunities especially in your career,” Dr Cruickshank said. “One student who learnt Greek was able to travel to Greece and get work over there because they could speak the language fluently.”
It is important to keep your first language
If you speak another language at home or in your family, it is a good idea to help your child learn to speak and read in your home language, as well as in English, from as early as possible.
Building literacy skills in that first language will help your child’s literacy in English. Skills gained in one language are useful for other languages.
Students who maintain their home language tend to
- have a better idea of how language works
- benefit from similarities in words, pronunciation, spelling or grammar. Even when the language is very different from English, similarities are transferred.
This boosts children’s general confidence with language. So they are likely to:
- join in more actively in the classroom.
- understand or guess words much faster
- make more use of a dictionary and be more organized in note taking
- seek out extra or new information
Two languages are better than one
Students will usually only maintain their home language through effort from them and their family.
This does not need both parents to be fluent in both languages, nor to translate each word they say from one language to the other. A good plan is for one parent to speak and read with the child in English, and the other parent to speak and read in the home language, so the child becomes used to operating equally in both languages — one with each parent.
Students who maintain their home language tend to
- become proud of knowing and using it
- be interested in maintaining their heritage
- gain a broader interest in language generally — and in learning about different cultures.
Students who gain skills and confidence in two languages will often be keen to try a third language later on. The skills they have already gained will make this easier for them.
Research shows that learning languages in early childhood helps children in their other school work and in their personal development.
It will also benefit their later work opportunities. Parents who help their children develop and maintain a language other than Englsih help give them wider career choices whether in business, diplomacy, education, journalism. commerce, tourism or many other areas.
Language skills help build an understanding of people from other countries and cultures, which also contributes to a better society and a more peaceful world.
قوّة الإنسان فى عقله و لسانه
The strength of a person is in his intelligence and his tongue.