Bilingual Program

Italian Classroom

Yarralumla Primary School is one of only two Italian/English Bilingual schools in Australia (and is the only public school that offers such a program). Its bilingual program has been operating since 2009 and has grown in reputation and popularity since its inception with 35 children to now over 320 students in Kindergarten to Year 6. The program is based on CLIL (Content Language Integrated Learning)  where K-6 children learn through Italian for half of the week. Fifty percent of the curriculum is taught in Italian and fifty percent in English. Research including student assessment shows that students in bilingual settings enjoy cognitive advantages along with excellent social understandings and personal fulfillment.

Why choose bilingual education?

  • Bilingual education has been studied intensively far almost forty years and this research has shown that there are significant educational advantages for students who study in bilingual programs.
  • Bilingual education is an excellent way to develop high levels of proficiency in a second language and develops academic skills in both languages.
  • Bilingual education has advantages for cognitive development. Students who participate in bilingual programs have been shown to perform better than their monolingual counterparts in all areas of the curriculum, to have more developed language awareness and to hove better convergent and divergent thinking skills.
  • Learning another language contributes to the learner's global education and assists in communication and socio-cultural understanding.
  • Learning a second language enhances career prospects and an early start in a bilingual program enhances language learning. It is double literacy power!
  • Language learners gain a sense of personal achievement, satisfaction and confidence as they develop important communicative skills.

Will learning in another language affect my child's English language and literacy?

The simple answer is no. In fact, students who participate in bilingual education typically perform better in English literacy than students educated solely in English, as bilingual education gives a boost to overall language development. Parents sometimes notice that in the first years of bilingual education their children may be taking more time to learn some skills than students in regular classrooms. This is normal, however, after two or three years in a bilingual program, this 'lag' is replaced by acceleration in learning so that bilingual students overtake other students. The first years are an investment for future achievements.

Why Learn Italian?

  • Italian is one of the major community languages in Australia and also an important language for culture, trade and technology throughout the world.
  • Competent speakers of Italian are a great asset to Australian society, most especially in the areas of commerce, tourism, education, community services and international law.
  • The study of Italian language and Italian culture is a window into European culture and the rich renaissance heritage of Italian music, art and sculpture.
  • Italian is a relatively easy language for English speakers to learn as its alphabet is phonemic and both languages share Latin roots.

Should I enrol my child at Yarralumla Primary School if she/he doesn't have an Italian background?

The majority of our students do not have an Italian background. We welcome all families with an interest in learning another language and offer an initial interview to gauge a student's suitability for the bilingual program.

How do the teachers at the Italian Bilingual School communicate with the students?

Students in the bilingual program learn the content of the Australian Curriculum through Italian language. Italian is taught using a Content Language Integrated Learning approach and refers to teaching subjects such as science, history and geography to students through a foreign language.

Teachers use a variety of strategies and techniques such as visual cues and body gestures to model and repeat Italian language for students. This is to assist students as they acquire new structures and vocabulary for the development of language skills such as accuracy and fluency.

Can students enrol in any year level without previous knowledge of Italian?

New students are not expected to have prior knowledge of Italian. However, the younger the student at enrolment (preferably K-2), the more likely the student will make a successful transition.

If neither my spouse nor I speak a second language, how can we help our child become bilingual?

Parents' attitudes, encouragement, and interest are vital in a child's second language development. Praising your children when you hear them speaking the second language and encouraging them to read aloud are highly recommended. Audio files are available for some early years texts to assist parents with their child's reading and to help them learn some Italian as well. The Library is also a useful resource for parents seeking to borrow Italian picturebooks and novels to share with their children.

English-Italian Bilingual Program Policy