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Testimonial: A student participating in two languages (Chinese and German)

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Testimonial from a student at Caulfield Grammar School. This student started his participation in the project in 2010 as a Year 11 student in Chinese and German. He continued with the German program as a Year 12 student in 2011. He prepared this speech for his fellow students before the start of the program in February 2011.

Hello! 你们好! Guten Tag! My name is Rick Whitehead, and last year I took part in the Monash University Bilingual Project for both Chinese and German. I’m sure you’ve already heard what the program entails, but just clarify again, throughout Term Two and Three you and your partner with a Chinese or German background spend eight period fives on a Monday discussing a range of different topics contrasting how life was in different generations, be it a comparison of schooling systems, or childhood hobbies or music etcetera, etcetera.

By taking part in this project, a few challenges do come with it. One of the most difficult challenges was overcoming the language barrier with my Chinese partner. The English ability of the participants is varied, with some being rather proficient in English, and others not knowing a word. Both my partner from last year’s English and my Chinese were rather basic, and there were a few, extended periods of awkward silence during the first couple of sessions. However, your strategies to deal with this quickly improve and with the help of your teachers and dictionaries, you’re soon on your way again. If there’s a sentence where you have no idea of what he or she said, sometimes it’s just easier to change the subject completely and move the conversation to something you’re more familiar with, another strategy that comes in handy when the oral examinations come around next year. If you’re interested in doing the German program, their English is very good and the real challenge is not to speak any English with them!

Along with the challenges come a plethora of benefits. By taking part in this program, you have the rare opportunity to learn about how life was like for previous generations in different cultures. One can find out about what is was like growing up during World War II, or living during the times of the West German Economic Miracle, the Stasi, or Mao’s Cultural Revolution. It’s a chance that shouldn’t be missed! While learning about all these significant events in the world’s history, you also gain community service hours and improve your speaking ability for your language orals next year.

In conclusion, if you’re keen to improve your speaking skills, engage with older members of the community, learn about different cultures and rack up community service hours, this is the program for you. Otherwise, at the end of most sessions, there’s free food.

Thanks for listening and hopefully I’ll catch you at the first session later this year!

Listen to this testimonial (duration: 2mins 9secs)