Practically Speaking

An Introduction to New Languages

Subject Description

This course will be taught by Languages staff and collaborate with experts in a range of fields.

This course has an innovative practical focus, with both the students and the teacher embarking upon an adventure together as we will attempt to learn a range of different languages from around the world from scratch. The boys who choose the subject together will all decide together what those languages might be. Underpinning the practical side of the course, we will explore how we learn languages and how languages as systems work and evolve. In this way, we will gain a better understanding our own language, as well as gaining language skills in at least four other languages.

The course will support the language acquisition skills that are characteristic of quality learners.   While some students develop them through their ongoing study of one language to a high level of fluency over a long period of time, other do so by learning languages in different contexts.  The subject will assist students who are looking to complete the IB Diploma after some time away from studying a language or those who are interested in language study for the HSC.

Area of Study

  • What is language? How do we learn it?
  • Choices of languages may include:
  • Languages of Europe – the Germanic, Slavic and Romance families of languages: The German, Dutch, Flemish, Scandinavian, Latin, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, French, Italian; Czech, Polish, Croatian, Serbian, Slovenian
  • Languages and symbols – languages using different scripts – Cyrillic (Greek, Russian), Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Urdu, Hindi
  • Languages without words – Auslan (Australian Sign Language), Braille, Morse Code
  • Languages with different sound systems – Xhosa, Zulu, Swahili
  • Indigenous and Islander Languages – Aboriginal languages, Tongan, Maori, Hawaiian
  • Artificially created languages – Esperanto
  • How languages morph and grow – across history; impact of the digital age; slang; social media; emojis; Urban Dictionary
  • Tools for language learning – Apps (Duolingo, Babbel etc); YouTube; Internet



Modes of Assessment

  • Individual, group and pair work
  • Work with visiting experts
  • Presentations and Investigations
  • Project-based learning
  • Technology applications
  • Development of the final project and showcase

Links to the Broader Curriculum

  • Language learning skills
  • Music, Art, Economics, History, Philosophy, Geography, Research, ICT
  • Communication skills
  • Research and ICT skills
  • Creative and critical thinking