Mandarin classes keep culture alive

Mandarin classes keep culture alive

Tuesday 4 April

In a first-time initiative for St Hilda’s, local primary school students with Chinese heritage are coming together to learn about their culture and language. For some, it is their first formal experience of the Chinese language.    

Every Wednesday after school, the students come to the St Hilda’s Junior School Library to learn how to read, write and speak Chinese.

The first-time program sees students use language games, role play and authentic materials as an introduction to the culture.

As the world becomes smaller and more accessible to travel, it’s important to keep in touch with your roots, according to Mandarin teacher Lisa Ma.

“The students are training a different part of their brain,” she said.

“For this group of students, many of them have parents, or at least one parent, with a Chinese background. They are keeping their heritage and their culture.”

Mrs Ma said it’s easier than ever for people to travel and see other cultures, and with Australia and China’s close relationship it’s an important language to learn.

“It’s not only to keep their culture and keep their ties with their extended family, but it’s also to get in touch with the world outside Australia,” she said.

For many students who were beginners at the start of the term, they are now able to read their Chinese textbooks.

While Year 5 student Jenny Yuan might know how to speak some Chinese, she wants to know more and more.

“In Chinese you don’t just have to know how to speak, you also have to know how to write and read,” she said.

Her favourite task is learning to write the characters, as it is “fun and interesting”.