Why Learn Languages?

why learn a language-

I am absolutely passionate about the benefits that learning a Language can bring to anyone of any age.

To have the opportunity to teach our students two languages from such a young age is a tremendous privilege.  For them and for me!

I often get asked why it’s such a good idea….  I mean, in this age of Google Translate, and the whole world speaking English (or so we’d like to think, particularly in isolated Australia) surely we don’t need this any more.

Yes, Google Translate is a fabulous resource.  I love it and use it myself for all sorts of things. But….

I believe nothing can compare to the magical delight of communicating with someone in their own language.  Of being in another place, and being able to understand and find your way around, and buy what you want.  To converse with complete strangers, and be understood.

I love seeing the delight on my students’ faces when they understand a video or song that is completely in German.

But those are my experiences, and it’s a bit like preaching to the choir, isn’t it?  So let’s look at some good solid research on why it’s great to learn another language.

If a child asks me why they should learn another language, I often give them quite a simplistic answer:  “It makes you smarter!”

Nothing in life is really that straightforward, but it’s a simple way to communicate the power of learning a language to children.

If you don’t feel like reading through my summary of the research I’ve read, feel free to jump straight to the bottom.  There’s some great links there – to a short video on the benefits of learning languages, and an infographic that summarises it too.  Take a look at them both and see what takes you by surprise!

If you’d like to hear my experiences and ideas, please read on!

Languages open doors – to other places, other ways of living, that not everyone is like me, and yet they are just like me in the things that matter.

I think learning a Language enlarges the soul.

Languages enhance your understanding of your own language.  You speak your own language well (usually) because you have absorbed it, without realising it.  Learning a second language allows you to step outside of your own, and understand the ways in which Languages are systems, with rules, with grammar.  Learning a second language lets you compare them, and manipulate them, instead of your first language being your own, unexamined ‘normal’.

My background is in Psychology, and my particular interest is in Neuropsychology.  How our incredible brains work, and change over time.  And the things we can do to make them continue to grow and be healthy.  Learning Languages builds pathways in your brain.  You develop metacognitive skills, better analysis skills, patterns, deductions, and if you are committed and work on memorising your learning, that too can benefit you. (And as an aside, far from being pointless and mundane, rote learning large slabs of text actually improves your brain’s reasoning abilities – you can carry out extensive thought processes, that allow you to reason through to the end of what you are pondering.)  Learning another language can help you right throughout your life…  It has even been proven to protect against the onset & impact of dementia.

And don’t worry, you don’t have to achieve true bilingualism to have benefited from the learning of language, there’s evidence to show that students’ results improve in other areas just from participating in some language learning.

this infographic came from this blog here:


it’s got so much fabulous information if you want to investigate further.

Here’s a fabulous Ted video about the benefits of bilingualism…


All of these ideas are from reading that I’ve done in the past few years in order to contribute my experience to a book written about Languages Teachers experiences and perspectives.  The references are below.

Want to know more?  John le Carre recently wrote this beautifully written article about his journey with languages, German in particular.


and a colleague of mine wrote this..


and while I’m promoting German, let’s look at the financial benefits of speaking it…


What benefits have you discovered from learning another language?



Absalom, M. (2014). What works: What we knew, what we know, what we think we know and what we need to do – Keynote Address. AIS 2014 Languages Conference: Languages Education – Vital and Viable. Sydney: https://aisnswlanguages.wikispaces.com/AIS+Languages+Conference+2014+-+Languages+Education+-+Vital+and+Viable. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/hvjhkbnlixkv/what-we-knew/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

ACARA. (2011). The Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Languages. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Languages_-_Shape_of_the_Australian_Curriculum_new.pdf

Bialystok, E. (2009). Bilingualism: The Good, The Bad, and the Indifferent. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12(1), 3-11.

Fernandez. (2007). Promoting the Benefits of Language Learning: Report to the Department of Education & Training. Melbourne: Research Unit for Mulitlingualism and Cross Cultural Communication at University of Melbourne.

Kroll. (2011). Juggling Languages can build better brains. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved from http://news.psu.edu/story160653/2011/02/18/juggling-languages-can-build-better-brains)

Lo Bianco, J. &. (2009). Second Languages & Australian Schooling. Melbourne: ACER.

Merritt, A. (2013). Why learn a foreign language: Benefits of bilingualism. http://www.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationopinion/10126883/Why-learn-a-foreign-language-Benefits-of-bilingualism.html




Es ist Winter!

Es ist Winter!


It’s not long until our WinterFest!  I hope you can join us for some European Wintry Fun! Keep an eye out for information in the Newsletter!

Have you seen the German Tree in the Library?

It looks like a true Winterbaum!  It is covered in glitzende Schneeflocken that Year 2 made for me.


Winter = Winter

Baum = tree

Glitzende = glittering

Schneeflocke = snowflake


Es ist Herbst!

es ist herbst!.pngThe seasons have changed, and we have been discussing the names of them:





We’ve also discussed how the seasons in Australia and Germany are opposite.

Have you seen the Autumn tree that Year 2 decorated in the library?

Herzlich Wilkommen zum 2018

First of all I’d like to wish you…

Ein frohes, neues Jahr!

I have spent the summer holidays studying an inspiring course run by the Goethe Institut.  It’s one of their DLL (Deutsch Lehrer Lernen) courses (an internationally recognised certificate in teaching German).  They’ve been focusing a lot on supporting Teachers of young children, which is the area I am passionate about.  This course is DaF für Kinder DLL 8.  It is about teaching German as a Foreign Language to young children.

I have been so inspired by the course.  And so humbled that many of the participants (it’s an online course, with students from all over the world) are pursuing it so that they can help refugees that are finding new homes in Germany and Austria.  How fabulous is that!

I have been so inspired to re-think and re-design a lot of our German learning activities. I can’t wait to get into the year, and see how this learning impacts my teaching throughout the year!

In my readings today, I have found my motto for the year – this is going to be my guiding star for 2018.

Bewegung ist das Tor zum Lernen (1)

The quote is from my readings, in the DLL textbook, Chapter 4, which talks about a Primary School concept, der bewegten Schule (lit. the moving school).  The quote in English says “Movement is the gate to learning” and I can’t wait to implement it more in my lessons!

Bis später!

Winterfest – Schneeflocken

Year 1 have made beautiful Schneeflocken to sell at the Winterfest.

All of Year 1 have had fun making them with lots of love.

They have been learning how to tell you their name in German.

They will answer the question “Wie heisst du?” with “Ich heisse …” at the Craft Stall to buy their Schneeflocke.

We can’t wait until Friday evening when the Winter Festival is on!

Come along for lots of yummy food, fun things to do and things to buy!


This post is written by 1B




Alles Gute zum Schulanfang!

Herzlich Wilkommen!

Some new Kindergarten classes started their German learning journey this term!  In celebration, I have given them all a small Schultüte, (school bag) which is something children in Germany receive on their first day of school!

Starting school in Germany is a significant milestone, just as it is here, but it’s possibly even more important.  The family will celebrate together, and the new student will receive a Schultüte packed with treats and things they need, including a backpack.

If you’d like to read more about it, we read together from herealles gute zum schulanfang.jpg.

I hope you check back in regularly to see what we are learning!


Germany – See : Think : Wonder

Year 4 has been solving a jigsaw puzzle of the states of Germany, it’s trickier than it looks, and it has loads of illustrations which tell us interesting things about Germany.

Here are our thoughts from our See : Think : Wonder response to the map.

SEE (some of the things we’ve seen in the illustrations)

  • fish, animals
  • giant scissors
  • the Rhine / Rhein
  • Nürnberg
  • an Eiffel Tower
  • country called Germany
  • places in Germany
  • weird man in Freiburg
  • picture of beer
  • some names of states
  • Cathedral
  • food
  • animals / farms
  • people
  • castles
  • boat
  • buildings
  • instruments (musical)
  • stalls / markets
  • snowflakes
  • axes
  • names of places
  • statues
  • Porsche Factory
  • Berlin Church / Cathedral
  • Wheat
  • Cranes
  • Sausages
  • Lots of soccer teams
  • Knights & Horses
  • German words
  • Mountains
  • Rivers


THINK (why we think they are there)

  • To show what the things are
  • To show people what it looks like
  • it looks like little continents
  • the places are very old
  • I think there is a church in München
  • They are the important things


WONDER (what we wonder / want to know)

  • I wonder what the map would look like in colour
  • are they states
  • are they countries or states?
  • Who are the people
  • How old is it?


We will use our ideas to construct some investigation questions about Germany in our mini Research unit.


Building Sentences

This week in Year 4 and Year 6, students have been exploring how to ‘build’ sentences in German.

We used a Lego board to create a model of a sentence.

We discussed the essential components of a sentence:

building sentences base board

Subject + Verb

See if your student can explain what the Subject and Verb are

Subject:  Who or What is doing the action

Verb:  The action they are doing.  We discussed tricky irregular verbs “to be” and “to have” that don’t necessarily look like verbs (eg. I am big), and that don’t follow the normal rules – these verbs are also irregular in German:

In addition, a sentence often has a Predicate (this may be a new word to you!).

The predicate covers all the other parts of the sentence.

We talked about how you can manipulate a sentence by replacing the subject or the verb.*

We concentrated on these sentences:

Year 6:

Ich bin…

Ich habe….

Year 4:

Meine Raupe ist …

Mein Schmetterling hat….

We sorted our word-bricks into the right colours, and then had fun making up and changing sentences  by swapping out the Subject, the Verb or the Predicate.

The students responded really well, and seemed to have a much clearer grasp of how to create a sentence of their own, rather than just copying a phrase they have been taught.

I’m really grateful to the amazing teacher I heard at a recent Languages Teacher meeting. You can check out more of her good ideas here.

*We didn’t talk yet about Subject + Verb agreement – for those of you who have ever studied languages! This means the way that the end of the verb changes according to who the subject is. I wanted to keep the focus on the overall sentence construction this time.

Die Wochentage


This week Klasse Vier have been revising the days of the week.








Can you work out the translations for these German words?

Here’s a fun song to help you learn them!