Cultural Diversity in Language Classes | Siena College
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Cultural Diversity in Language Classes

Cultural Diversity in Language Classes

Our students are lucky to be living and studying in a diverse city such as Melbourne. According to the website Invest Victoria, Melbourne has a culturally diverse population, where fifty-eight percent of the population have either both or one parent born overseas. Approximately one third of all households speak two or more languages, with the top languages (outside of English) being Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Cantonese. Diversity is all around us.

For our students, this means that they can constantly see, hear, and experience other languages and cultures around them.

Through the course of their studies, they have the opportunity to use their knowledge and skills of the language they learn in class without having to travel. They can enrol in language associations, attend film festivals, order food from around the world at cafes and restaurants, and experience contemporary and traditional cultures at events such as Chinese New Year, Bastille Day, the Melbourne Italian Fiesta, the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre to name but a few.

In that perspective, learning a language is not about the acquisition of skills that you may only use when travelling overseas - languages can be used here and now.

At the start of this year, Year 9 Language students were asked to discuss their understanding of cultural diversity around them.

They reflected on challenges and benefits of living in a multicultural society and discussed how cultural diversity is present at school and in their daily lives.

This culminated with a session where students brought an object of their choice that represents cultural diversity and shared it with their peers.

Student reflections:

This student presented a bag from South Africa:
By learning a bit about another culture, you are opening your mind to a diverse society and closing the gap between our differences.

This student presented a cookbook:

Sometimes people are wary of other cultures and differences, but food is a way to break down those barriers. People are able to share their cultures through food, while experiencing other cultures.

This student presented a cross:

We might have different opinions and beliefs, but the cross is what brings us together.

This student presented a dreamcatcher:

It helps us understand that even though people came from different backgrounds we can still hold close relations and connections with one another.

This student presented two cooking spoons from two different cultures:

When I help cooking with my mum, we both feel that our great grandparents are with us as we cook just like when they were here.

Dean Fleischer

Head of Languages
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