“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

— Ludwig Wittgenstein

There is no denying that learning a foreign language can sometimes be a challenging experience, particularly with limited opportunity to practise outside the classroom. However, learning a language is a skill that will add to many facets of your life, often without you even realising, and as part of a well-rounded education, the value of language learning cannot be underestimated.

"A different language is a different vision of life."

Federico Fellini

At Toowoomba Grammar School, we endeavour to bring languages alive and facilitate as much activity as possible ‘outside of the text-book’. Research shows that boys appreciate context and authentic interactions in their language studies. Boys need to feel comfortable to move out of their comfort zone, to take risks and experiment with their language skills in a safe and encouraging environment. Our language teachers bring a wide variety of techniques to the classroom, emphasising speaking and interaction. We teach grammar systematically but avoid learning rules out of context.

Our French and Japanese curricula at TGS include topics that are relevant and useful, and we organise immersive cultural and language opportunities whenever we can for our boys, to help maximise their linguistic development and enjoyment of Languages.

Although research is limited, gender gaps in language study have long been acknowledged and observed in Australia, with boys under-represented. Despite girls statistically being more than twice as likely to study a foreign language however, the number of Toowoomba Grammar School boys studying Japanese and/or French often defies this phenomenon.

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart."

Nelson Mandela

One of our ongoing and significant goals at TGS is to foster positive relationships, at both a local and global level. The staff and students of our Languages Department are proud of our long-standing connections with ‘sister-schools’ and cities, and of our school trips and individual exchanges over the years to Japan, New Caledonia, France. Some boys have even travelled to Canada! We are equally proud of the enduring relationships forged between groups and individuals through these exchanges; all are testament to our commitment of promoting and fostering global citizenship for and amongst our young men. We look forward to re-establishing these exchanges and welcoming French and Japanese students here at TGS once again.

It is through these exchanges, through the integrated cultural experiences offered in our language curriculums, and as part of the well-rounded education offered at TGS that our boys can continue to develop their general character and enhance their overall resilience, tolerance, and compassion.

"He who knows no foreign languages knows nothing of his own."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There are many cross-curricular benefits of language learning, including improving literacy and numeracy skills. Studies have repeatedly shown that students who learn a second language become more decisive, develop superior problem-solving, critical thinking and listening skills. Also, because the brain is constantly switching between speech, writing and sentence structures, boys learning languages become better multi-taskers and have improved memory and attention span!

One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way."

Frank Smith

Sometimes our boys can’t see the relevance of French or Japanese to their future careers, so don’t elect to continue past Year 8. Unfortunately, we have a lot of students regret this when they realise just how much learning a language can help to develop their cultural awareness and they start missing the variety that languages add to their study course.

Recognising the high-demand for language learners due to the critical and higher-order thinking skills developed, many Colleges in the US now require students to study a second language throughout high school if they are applying for scholarships, and most major Australian universities apply ‘bonus ATAR points’ to a student’s selection ranking upon application. Some universities also offer ‘dual degree’ programs incorporating foreign language study to encourage cross-campus international study, to help students and Australian companies engage and compete on the world stage in their respective fields. A lot of employers, including The Australian Defence Force, offer financial incentives for their employees with second-language capabilities.

Indeed, languages are a complementary skill to many career paths; they can also advance your future career by making you stand out. And if that is not enough, in 2032, South-East Queensland will host the Olympic Games! What amazing opportunities wait for those with second language capabilities.

"Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things,

but learning another way to think about things."

Flora Lewis

Recently, TGS hosted staff from the University of Queensland's Languages Faculty for ‘A Taste of University Languages’. Students from around Toowoomba attended the afternoon, participating in authentic university language lectures and lessons, and learning about how skills in a second language can be paired with various degrees. In a workshop on Languages and Employability, students were encouraged to consider the benefits that studying a language brings them personally. The insight shown by our young men was considerable with many commenting not only on the cognitive and career benefits, but also the simple pleasure that language learning brings them. Most pleasingly, students consistently articulated that learning a foreign language is a rewarding challenge that is always fun; Languages bring joy and adds variety and interest to their school day. “Learning a language makes me happier.” - (Riyan Khan, Year 11 student).

When you learn languages, it goes beyond the words we use to communicate. You learn about other people, their rich cultures and their history and you learn to see the world through other people’s eyes. You also enjoy travel more when you make the effort to have a conversation in the language of the country you are visiting.

TGS Old Boy (2007-15), Dr. Sachin Joshi sums it up well, reflecting on his experience in the 2015 French Language and Cultural Tour. “It’s more immersive than being a tourist with an outsider’s perspective looking in. You feel more like a local when you can follow, understand, and participate in the immediate environment around you. It doesn’t feel like a foreign country as much.”

"Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going."

Rita Mae Brown

At Toowoomba Grammar School, our boys have a unique opportunity to learn to read this map.

- Mrs Elouise Parrington
TGS Head of Languages

Discover more about our TGS Academic program here https://bit.ly/3AlUFdu

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