Archive for February 1st, 2011

Studying a second language at school

An email to MTR 1377’s Steve Price and Andrew Bolt

Hello Steve and Andrew,

Regarding your discussion on today’s show about learning a second language at school, I have to agree with you based on my own experience.

From Kindergarten through until Year 6 at my primary school in Canberra I was taught Japanese (both culture and language) and by the end of it I was no closer to speaking Japanese fluently than I was when I started, despite the ACT government flying in Japanese women to act as assistant teachers every year.

By the end of it, I was able to count to ten in Japanese, as well as pronounce a few letters of one of their alphabets, say half a dozen words and sing a song which the Japanese teacher made up.

In Year 7, when I had the choice of studying Japanese or French (we were allowed to drop languages in favour of other subjects from year 8 onwards), I stuck with Japanese as there seemed to be no point in changing. I passed the first test of the year as it was a revision of the last seven years of work, and then failed every other assessment item of the year except for one test where the teacher mistakenly gave me the answer sheet and didn’t recognise her handwriting when she marked it.

The whole experience was a giant waste of time which would have been better utilised studying history, a subject which seemed to be glossed over very quickly and with minimal detail.

Best wishes.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart

3 comments February 1st, 2011 at 12:45pm


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