Tamworth and New England schools show language diversity

SECOND LANGUAGE:  Harjot Singh with teacher Sandy Palmer and fellow student Treasure Nnorom. Photo: Peter Hardin 200317PHB37
SECOND LANGUAGE: Harjot Singh with teacher Sandy Palmer and fellow student Treasure Nnorom. Photo: Peter Hardin 200317PHB37

NEW England Schools are a hive of cultural activity, with new figures painting a picture of just how diverse we really are.

Statistics obtained by The Leader have revealed just under ten per cent of students in New England schools identify English as their second language.

Our schools boast a tally of 127 language groups across the region, with Filipino enrollments making up the bulk of that particular group of students. 

It’s closely followed by Chinese, with 133 enrollments last year, while 89 students listed German as their first language, 113 identified with Southern Africa, 65 as French and 88 as Maori.

Out of the 43 main language groups listed for enrollments in the region's public schools, 792 students had identified themselves as speaking languages other than those on the list.

To help new international students settle into school life, the Department of Education and Communities has introduced English as an Additional Language or Dialect teachers (EALD), who work with students on their language and literacy skills.

One of those teachers is Sandy Palmer, who works with students three days a week at Tamworth Public School, where 14 per cent of students identify English as being their second language.

Mrs Palmer said she had noticed an increase of cultural diversity in the region’s schools and networks, with EALD teachers on a regular basis.

“It’s the best job, I just love it,” she said.

“It’s so nice to see them in town, they know me and they know my kids.

“I do small group sessions from kindergarten to year six and I also do the resourcing for teachers who ask me what they should be doing.

“I have a little room (at the school) and they all come in and are very enthusiastic about it.

“What we do is mostly around literacy and vocabulary and we do lots of talking and play games.

“Writing is also a big focus for our school”

Mrs Palmer also holds regular morning and afternoon tea sessions, where students bring a plate of food from their home country as a way for parents and children to mingle.