Testimonial from two students at Caulfield Grammar School. These students participated in the Chinese program in 2012. Students of Chinese and Chinese seniors enhanced their language and culture learning through a real life experience in a Chinese restaurant.
“The Monash University’s Intergenerational Research Program allowed us, Year 11 and 12 students, to interact with an older generation with a language other than our mother-tongue, in this case either Chinese, German or Spanish. To start the program off, we had an orientation meeting where we could meet each member one by one; following that each day of the program consisted of us staying in groups of two where we could have conversations. The conversations we had with them typically took place at school, revolving around topics both parties were familiar with, such as food, school, and family. On one instance, we had an opportunity to have this conversation in an authentic Chinese restaurant where we could practice our Chinese, experience Chinese cuisine, as well as learning the Chinese way of having a meal, such as tapping the table with two fingers after having a cup of tea poured as a sign of respect.
Participating in this program provided us with a unique opportunity that had many benefits. Communicating with the assigned elderly partner whose first language is Mandarin pushed us to speak more of the language than just resolving to English and therefore improving our language skills in both speaking and listening. The sessions also enhanced our confidence when using the language to carry out a full conversation.
Other than the linguistic aspect of the program, it also gave us the chance to learn from our partner about the Chinese culture, which we found very interesting, as it is so different to Australian culture.
It was a great decision to get involved in the project, as it has definitely made an impact on our ability to recognise, learn, and then utilise more Mandarin vocabulary, improved many non-linguistic skills and has also been tremendous fun.”
Thomas Mann & Ellie Zajko [Caulfield Grammar School, August 2012]