Thursday, August 22, 2013

Selamat siang!

[Michele] As with just about every other aspect of school at Mission Beach State School, even foreign language study is different than back home.  Most US schools start with Spanish, French and German in middle school.  If you stop and think about it why Spanish, French and German?  Why not Chinese, Russian and Arabic? OK, there might be some overachiever public schools like Amherst, MA but most middle schools only offer Spanish, French or  German.  Heck, even the fancy private high school that I attended only offered French and Spanish.  OK maybe there was Latin but let's just not go there.

One could argue that the English language is derived from French and German so learning these languages will enrich students' understanding of English. Sure. I get it.  One could also argue that Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the US and students ought to know it.  Yeah.  I'm convinced.  

OK, now let's look at Mission Beach State school.  This term the kids are learning Indonesian. I've learned from Robin and Will that Selamat Siang is how you say Good Afternoon in Indonesian. At Mission Beach State School, they don't learn French or Spanish or German, which seems very strange at first until you look at a map.  Indonesia is like, right there.  Far North Queensland, where we are, is especially close with just the Torres Strait between Australia and eastern Indonesia.  There is currently a big political hoopla about ending the immigration of Indonesians who come by boat to Australia shores. So it makes sense that schools here would teach primary school children Indonesian.  Just as the countries neighboring the US speak Spanish and French, Australia's closest neighbor speaks Indonesian.

Today Will had his Indonesian oral exam.  He and his mate had were taped by the examiner having a conversation in Indonesian. I was sort of surprised at this since it seems like the only vocabulary that I heard him learn was related to sports. The boys cleverly scripted their conversation out and guess what it was about?  Apparently, the hobbies of those boys involves a lot of sports!  Will is pretty chuffed* about his exam performance.  That is great but I'm still wondering how he will actually function on a visit to Indonesia knowing the words for soccer, tennis and read a book.

Meanwhile Robin's class has been learning Indonesian words for clothing and their assignment is to put on a fashion show. Once again how will this come in handy when you are in need of potable water while traveling through Indonesia?  Will they understand that when you say "Do you like my skirt?" you are really trying to say "Help!"?  In truth learning Indonesian words for sports or clothing is still a lot better than teaching the kids to say "Don't come here by boat", which is what the government is saying in a vast and somewhat controversial print ad campaign.

Anyways, when writing out her fashion show, Robin just made stuff up and didn't realize that she was expected to actually videotape herself wearing the clothes in her description. Doh!  So now she is working on a cartoon stop-motion version of the fashion show. This should be interesting.

Or, as our northern neighbors say 'ini harus menarik'.  [translation courtesy of Google translate].  

* chuffed is aussie-speak for quite pleased

No comments:

Post a Comment