What does being bilingual mean at BSPS? We thought the best people to answer this question are our kids.
‘BSPS’s bilingual program means a different thing to each student. To me it’s a gateway to a different type of learning: we learn about culture, language and tradition. At one point, by accident, I started telling my mum about my day in Italian. On lots of people’s bucket list, it says ‘learn another language’ and it is one of the things that doesn’t get completed.
I was able to tick it off before my eighth birthday.’ Rosie – Year 5/6
At BSPS we have created learning environments that cater to all individual learning styles, engaging our students to be critical thinkers in an English and Italian bilingual setting. Our aim is for every student to achieve success and pride ourselves on delivering learning that is challenging, fun and connects students to their deeper purpose in the world.
BSPS is the first Italian bilingual school in Victoria, being welcomed into this arena in 2017. We have a rich history of Italian migration in our area and that footprint is still visible and audible in our community. Italian has been taught within our school for over twenty years and we have merely taken a huge leap forward. This was done to provide our students with authentic language, in a framework that both enhances their learning and nurtures and stimulates their thinking skills.
In 2012 we began our current language journey, offering students a rich and exciting program where Italian was used to deliver parts of the curriculum. At that time we used immersion. Students were spoken to only in Italian and through various prompts, mime and sometimes even acrobatics, they gained understanding of the content they were being taught. We have been encouraged by the knowledge from well researched data that bilingual education has a significant impact on student learning. Bilingual students develop greater attention when learning and have an increased ability to task-switching than their monolingual counterparts. They have a more pronounced awareness of metalinguistic forms, drawing parallels and connections between language systems. All this aids in the improvement of memory and visual-spatial skills.
The model we follow at BSPS is driven by each learning area. In Literacy, (Reading, Writing) we immerse our students in Italian language, (our Italian teachers are all native speakers), and texts that have been sourced from Italy too! Students gain gradual understanding of the language, building upon their language bank each year. They learn how to manipulate the language and to respond to show comprehension. In Measurement and Geometry, Statistics and Probability, Science, Visual Arts and Performing Arts we follow a CLIL type model where the content that needs to be understood is taught in Italian.
At BSPS we know that it is our responsibility to do whatever it takes to make individual success a reality. We only use the best educational practices, all of which are founded on scientifically-based research. Studies shows us that, regardless of your child’s ability, learning another language can:
• Stimulate brain development: Learning through language helps develop essential areas of children’s brains. It also helps them to think more creatively, connect ideas and solve problems more easily.
• Significantly enhance English literacy skills: Learning through language means more than just memorising lists of words. Languages all use different systems. Children automatically compare and contrast the system of the new language they are learning with the language that they already know. This gives them insight as to how English works, which can then
accelerate their ability to read and write.
• Improve memory, concentration and numeracy skills: Learning through language strengthens children’s memory for sequences and their ability to concentrate and build connections.
• Improve overall performance at school: Learning another language is associated with excellent, long-term academic results. Studies show that in the world’s highest-performing school systems, all students in all year levels learn one or more languages.
• Encourage respect and understanding of other cultures: Our Bilingual Program is strongly supported by both the school and Italian communities. It allows the students’ first language and Italian to work in partnership to strengthen and enrich their repertoire of literacy practices – in other words, what we learn in one language helps us with any other languages we encounter.
This short film is an introduction to the CLIL and explores the journey of four schools, including BSPS, that were trialing this methodology in the Victorian context.
Promoting Languages in the Curriculum
The conversation.com ‘Speaking in tongues: the many benefits of bilingualism’