Bilingual program students in a class of their own

They started language classes together in primary school, now they graduate high school together after more than a decade of Mandarin lessons.

Image: Logan Bondoc, Zac McLeod and Riley Flahey have been studying Mandarin together since primary school.

As the release of HSC results today marked the official end of 2020 and the school year, students at Rouse Hill High School were marking their own auspicious moment.

This year marked the graduation of a group of students who first started studying Chinese as part of an innovative bilingual Asian language program.

In 2007 Rouse Hill Public School successfully applied to be one of the four primary schools in the State to operate a bilingual Asian language program.

The school was successful in gaining a Chinese Mandarin program with Scott’s Head Public School gaining the Indonesian program; Murray Farm Public School, Japanese and Campsie Public School, Korean.

The program launched in 2008 with 40 Kindergarten students and 44 Year One students selected to be part of the bilingual stream at Rouse Hill Public.

Then Rouse Hill Public School principal Jason Miezis, who oversaw the program’s introduction said the students not only learned about Chinese culture; as part of their everyday learning they also studied key curriculum content in Mandarin.

“At the time, our dreams and expectations were that students would work towards being fluent Mandarin language speakers,” he said.

Fast forward to 2020 and three students from the original cohort have now graduated in Mandarin Continuers as part of HSC course offerings at Rouse Hill High School.

Rouse Hill High School Chinese language teacher Kate Wang said it was wonderful to see the students continue their studies in Mandarin from primary into secondary level.

Ms Wang said the school had marked the achievement with a special ceremony including a memento book with letters of support from their primary and high school language teachers and past and current principals.

In his letter to students Mr Miezis said he felt a “deep sense of joy and satisfaction knowing that the risk many parents took to include their children in the 2008 bilingual program has resulted in high levels of success”.

“I feel a deep sense of optimism knowing that many of the students who have worked hard to develop Mandarin language skills over the past 12-13 years will continue their lifelong journey to be deeply invested international citizens,” he wrote.

“I feel a deep sense of comfort and hope knowing that between the two schools, many more students will continue to have the opportunity to learn Chinese language skills and the importance of being a global citizen into the future, particularly at a time when our world has never felt more disrupted and fractured.”

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