Intercultural learning and teaching exchange

IGS recently welcomed staff and students from the Masters in Indigenous Languages Education (MILE) Program at the University of Sydney.

They observed the IGS Year 7 Japanese Continuers students’ lesson via Zoom, while Dharug woman Leanne King and MILE Coordinator Susan Poetsch attended in person.

The lesson opened with Acknowledgements of Country. Tilly Benedictus spoke in Japanese, and proud Wiradjuri and Gamilaraay girl Chenelle Carr spoke in Wiradjuri and English.

IGS Japanese Language Teacher and Coordinator of Indigenous Partnerships Lucy Sensei brainstormed with students on the topic of Japanese food “Washoku”.

“Students participated in class discussions and extended their vocabulary through games and whole class speaking practice,” Lucy said.

“They interviewed each other in the target language about favourite foods.

“Claudine showed an example of a Google slide speaking presentation they had recently completed for an assessment task.

“We were very excited as this was an opportunity for students and staff from MILE to observe our language immersion program and for our students to talk to them about First Nations perspectives and where they come from and the languages they are going to teach. 

“The event was very much an intercultural opportunity for our students on many levels. While practising their language skills in the area of Japanese foods, our students also reflected on the cuisines of their own cultures and those of our visiting First Nation educators.”

The event builds upon strong IGS connections with Sydney University.

MILE Coordinator Susan Poetsch said she was very impressed by the high level of Japanese fluency Year 7 IGS students are achieving.

“They were able to confidently learn and use the vocabulary items and language structures that were the focus of the lesson, as well as converse spontaneously on the topic,” Susan said.

“The students’ literacy skills were also very impressive, especially given the complexities of the Japanese writing systems.

“The students’ openness to other cultures also stood out for us.

Ahead of our visit Lucy Sensei and the students had prepared a set of questions, all of which indicated deep thinking about Language-Land connections in Aboriginal cultures. They were interested to know First Nations perspectives, where the teachers come from and the languages they are going to teach.

“For teachers of Aboriginal languages, it’s so interesting to see the kinds of classroom strategies for developing learners’ language proficiency that are, or can be, shared by specialist teachers of languages.”

The MILE program is designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are qualified teachers who wish to become teachers of their languages.

We thank students and staff from the University of Sydney for visiting our Japanese class.