Schools tongue twist

Gee­long’s non-English speak­ing stu­dent pop­u­la­tion surges

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - OLIVIA SHYING

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.

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