WHEN you walk up the corridors of Hawkesdale P-12 College, it’s likely you will be greeted with a ‘ni-hao’ rather than a ‘hello’.
The college has an extensive Chinese language program and has had the help of a language assistant from Shanghai in the classroom this year.
Wang Yi, 25, has been working at the school since the start of the year and will return home later this month.
She said she had loved her time in Australia. “It’s been really good. Hawkesdale is very different to Shanghai,” she said. “The people have been so friendly, and I think for some of the younger children, I’m the first Chinese person they have ever seen,” she joked.
Ms Wang said she came to Hawkesdale as part of a Chinese government program that puts Chinese students in schools as language assistants.
“The language assistant program is open to any student who is studying for their masters,” she said.
“I’m doing a masters in research, so thought this would be a great way to see a different country, while helping teach about the Chinese culture.
“It is very competitive in China, thousands of people applied, so I was very happy to be selected, and very happy to come to Australia.”
She said her role at Hawkesdale was to assist the Chinese teacher in the classroom, teaching language as well the Chinese culture.
“We went on a study trip to China in September, where the students stayed with host families from Hawkesdale’s sister school in Beijing, cooked a Chinese banquet for the whole school and we had a Skype link-up with the sister school in Beijing.
“The Skype link-up was funny because it was the day the phones went down, so we couldn’t call anyone locally, but we still had internet and could talk to people in Beijing.
“That was really good because the students could say hello to their host families from the trip in September.”
College principal Colan Distel said the school had a Mandarin Chinese LOTE program for a number of years, and was keen to establish a stronger link with its sister school in Beijing.
“Every student in years 5 to 8 learn Mandarin and if they want to they can continue on in senior years,” he said.
“I think it also fits in well with the federal government’s future directions that every child should learn an Asian language at school.
“A lot has come out of the program, and I think there is still a great deal we can do to strengthen the program.”