Getting your children to be excited about going to school during the week is hard enough, let alone being able to encourage them to be passionate about learning so much that they may want to go in for extra classes on a Saturday – but that is precisely what many students are doing in Melbourne.
What do the lessons involve?
Every Saturday morning, a group of 100 students heads over to Blackburn High School to learn Hindi. The Victorian School of Languages program aims to teach students Hindi in a variety of different ways. Using a range of learning tools, including musical and visual aids, as well as practising conversations with peers, the school encourages children to improve their Hindi.
Visual aids are an excellent tool for learning any new language as they significantly improve comprehension. Sometimes, when hearing new words for the first time, it is difficult to ground phrases in our minds and associate them with the correct meaning. Having an image to refer to helps with this. It also dramatically reduces anxiety as often, when you don’t understand what is being said, it can feel quite disorientating.
Each lesson lasts around three hours and, by the end of the course, students will have learnt how to read and write in Hindi, as well as being able to speak the language. Students don’t need to worry about being left behind by their peers, either. Classes are divided based on ability to ensure pupils get the right support and lesson materials based on their fluency.
Why pupils are choosing Hindi
So, why are these young people so eager to give up their Saturdays’ during term times to learn Hindi? There are several cultural and personal reasons. For instance, many claimed that learning their ancestors’ language helps them feel connected to their roots.
One child stated that it helps him communicate better with his family overseas in India. With many of the older generation speaking Hindi more than English (or exclusively only speaking Hindi), being able to talk in the same language means youngsters can have meaningful conversations with their grandparents.
It is especially impressive that these students wish to spend their free time learning when there are so many other more ‘popular’ extracurricular activities available like sports or music. While learning a language is very rewarding, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become proficient. So, it is heartening to see so many Australian children embrace their heritage and express a desire to keep Hindi thriving, despite living in an English speaking country.
How can parents help encourage their kids
Parents who are keen to motivate their children to take up the language can help by teaching kids to embrace their roots. The more children learn about their heritage and culture, the more they feel connected to it, and it becomes part of their identity. Speaking their mother-tongue at home will provide them with a basis for learning. When they come to start learning Hindi in school, they will not feel overwhelmed by the lessons, and some of the sounds will already feel familiar.