All Aussie kids must be given a chance to be literate and numerate, to make music, play sport, do science… but not all can be guaranteed a second language.
It can’t be mandated because it can’t be resourced. There are not enough LOTE teachers, especially of the right kinds in the right places – and may never be, to judge by the effect of recruitment campaigns throughout the English-speaking-world.
So what can be done?
We can formally acknowledge the practical utility of “apprenticeship language” learning. This is a strategy commended for wider deployment by Prof Joseph Lo Bianco (“Second Languages and Australian Schooling”,2009). It involves recognizing that much language understanding is transferrable between languages, so that learning a simple non-target language before a more difficult (and hard to resource) language is very effective in getting more students fluent in target languages.
This acknowledgement changes everything because a language apprenticeship in simple, intercultural Esperanto is something that all primary teachers are now equipped to provide. The resource which teaches them as they teach their class is called “Talking to the Whole Wide World: Integrated LOTE and Intercultural Studies for Australian Primary Schools”. Because of the design of both the language and the program, children are able to achieve mastery in 100-200 hours and leave primary school bilingual. This can be defined as the minimum Australian children deserve in primary LOTE education- it’s a lot better than the nothing they have now!
The broad intercultural education that comes with sharing a new language with an international peer group spread over more than 100 countries is a great precursor to more specific studies later, too.
I’m looking to gather a group of educators who can see that secondary LOTE teachers would be much more successful if all students arrived bilingual in a first foreign language, and ready to apply their knowledge skills and confidence to the next one. Are you one? Please let me know!
Penelope Vos: firstname.lastname@example.org