National Community Language Schools Conference an overwhelming success
Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram More than 550 teachers and instructors from 34 language groups filled the Faculty of Law Auditorium at the University of Sydney on Saturday 8 October, for the 2016 National Community Languages Schools Conference. The event was organised by the NSW Federation of Community Languages Schools and supported by Community Languages Australia (AFESA).“The conference once again highlighted that languages education is an important element in students’ curriculum,” Tassos Douvartzides, chairman of AFESA, emphasised, giving a vote of thanks to all those involved in organising the conference. It also showed how important the community languages school sector is in providing an invaluable resource in Australian education.Mr Douvartzides then spoke about the emotion that languages carry and how “we should cherish this wonderful asset that we have. We should embrace it and hold on to it”.The choir, made up of students in national costume, proudly sang the Australian national anthem and gave a true sense of integration. MC Michael Christodoulou AM then introduced the many invited personalities and community leaders.The president of NSW FCLS, Albert Vella OAM, welcomed all the guests and thanked those present for their commitment and called on schools to continue the vital work that they are doing.Following Mr Vella’s speech, Minister for Ageing, Disability Services and Multiculturalism John Ajaka MLC spoke about his own life experiences of learning languages and again highlighted the volunteering efforts of the community languages schools sector.Minister for Early Childhood Education, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Assistant Minister for Education Leslie Williams MLC also reiterated that the NSW government fully supports community schools via a video message.Meanwhile, State Opposition Shadow Minister for Education Jihad Dib MP offered bipartisan support highlighting the importance of language learning. Professor Leslie Harbon, head of school, international studies at the University of Technology Sydney was the keynote professor. Members of the AFESA Council − Enzo Sirna (WA), Javad Mehr (ACT), Darryl Buchanan (SA), Irene Baldyon (QLD), executive officers and staff, Fahry Abubaker (VIC), Jacqui Dixon (ACT) and Neda Erjae (VIC), together with 11 delegates from WA funded by the OMI, were also in attendance.Following the speakers’ addresses, SBS Director – Audio & Language Content Mandi Wicks presented the SBS National Languages Competition Prize winners awards and thanked the CLA for its cooperation in making the competition happen. Stefan Romaniw OAM, executive director of Community Language Australia, then presented a national perspective. With 100,000 students studying 70 languages, he stated that this conference was another indication of the strength of community commitment to languages education.The afternoon session was filled with more constructive conversation and informative workshops for everyone.