Schools tongue twist
Geelong’s non-English speaking student population surges
THE number of Geelong high school students who don’t speak English at home has grown significantly at many of the region’s schools as the city’s demographic continues to change, an analysis of data has revealed.
In just six years, Northern Bay’s English as a second language student population has grown from 14 per cent to 30 per cent, while Belmont High School’s has risen from 10 per cent to 15 per cent, MySchool data reveals.
North Geelong High has the highest proportion of secondary students who speak English as a second language, with 38 per cent of students speaking another language at home.
Northern Bay College’s English as an additional language (EAL) co-ordinator Barbara Barry said about 500 of the school’s student cohort speak a language other than English.
She said increased migration to the area had led to a surge in non-English speaking families enrolling, leading the school to hire eight additional specially trained EAL teachers and aides to ensure student needs are addressed.
Ms Barry said the team of multicultural aides included people who spoke Karen, Kareni and Farsi as a first language.
The multicultural aides work in classrooms with students to help check their understanding of the work they are completing.
“The students may not be able to express what they know about a topic in English, but they may be able to under- stand when it is spoken in their first language,” Ms Barry said.
“The work is invaluable because the teachers do not work as translators, they are there to check the pupils understand what the teacher has said.”
A language other than English is spoken in nearly 20 per cent of Norlane and Corio households, ABS data reveals.
The Karen language, commonly spoke in Myanmar, is spoken at home by 2.1 per cent of Norlane and Corio’s population and is the second most common language followed by Croatian, Macedonian, Serbi- an and Hazaragi.
The data reveals 67.9 per cent of Corio and Norlane residents were born in Australia, with 30.5 per cent of residents born to parents who had migrated. According to the data, 2.3 per cent of residents’ had a mother who was born in Myanmar and 2.2 per cent had a mother born in Afghanistan.
Ms Barry said the school’s growing EAL was reflective of the region’s changing demographic.
She said all EAL students spent four hours a week completing intensive English lan- guage classes to ensure they did not fall behind.
“Teachers who are trained to teach English to people who have another language as their first language speak to the students about patterns of grammar and teach them topics that they can relate to out of the classroom,” Ms Barry said.
She said EAL students recently learned about the Commonwealth Games and were encouraged to watch it at home.
She said many of the parents were enrolled in an English program run by refugees.