Learning a new language has become a central aspect of life at Gowrie Broadmeadows Valley. 

In a suburb where more than 60% of residents speak a language other than English at home, the language program is an engaging way for children to share culture through songs, games, cooking and reading. 

The language program began at GBV in 2020 with Spanish lessons delivered weekly in a play-based format that incorporated both child-led and teacher-led learning experiences. 

When the Spanish teacher left the service, conversations and consultations with families led to the decision to start an Arabic language program this year. 

Early Learning Educator Bassima Al Hadi said the decision was based on the location of the service, the number of children and families speaking the Arabic language, the relevant historical factors in the area and the need to strengthen community partnerships through opportunities for authentic language learning. 

“We have also begun Adult English Classes at our service, in cooperation with Broadmeadows Valley Primary School Community Learning Hub,” Bassima said. “These are for families speaking English as a second language, and most of them are from an Arabic language background.” 

The children’s program, delivered twice a week, allows them to explore the Arabic language and culture through songs, puppet shows, stories and books, games, cooking, gardening and flash cards. “Through observations, we found some children understand and learn via the use of visual data, some by audio, and some by practical exposure,” Bassima said. “We implemented many ways of learning and used various materials to encourage exploration and extend children in their learning of Arabic.” 

The program has since been evaluated by the Department of Education and Training and funding has been extended for 2023. 

Bassima said establishing a high quality, sustainable language program allowed children to maintain their heritage language or learn a new one. She said it allowed for a sharing and understanding of the culture associated with the language and promoted a variety of healthy developments in children and the community.