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Languages Champions


Michael Maniska Short Biography

Michael trained initially as a teacher of French and English as a Second Language. He then spent a year in a French Lycée as a teaching assistant. Michael returned to Australia to teach Languages in a Primary to Year 12 Sydney Independent School. Michael taught Primary Italian classes and Secondary French to New South Wales Higher School Certificate (NSW HSC) level. He completed a Masters degree in French while teaching Languages.

Michael also became involved in Languages curriculum development as a member of the NSW HSC French Continuers syllabus writing team. He has served as both a member and Chair of the HSC Examination Committee for French and was Supervisor of Marking for French for the NSW Board of Studies from 2002-2004, then Coordinating Supervisor of Marking for French, German, Italian and Spanish in 2005-2006. Michael was appointed principal of Telopea Park School www.telopea.act.edu.au in 2007.

Languages at Telopea Park School

Telopea Park School www.telopea.act.edu.au is a unique school, which operates under a bi-national agreement established by the Australian and French governments in 1983. As a part of this charter, the French government provides French teachers who teach in the school across the curriculum from Kindergarten to Year 10. Every student at Telopea Park School is on the journey towards bilingualism. From K–10, the study of a Language other than English (LOTE) is compulsory.

In the Primary school, there is a ‘harmonised’ bilingual English/French curriculum. From Kindergarten to Year 2, students are immersed in French four days a week. In Years 3 to 6, the curriculum is delivered half in English and half in French. In Years 7 to 10, there is an English/French stream, which builds on the Primary program and prepares students for the French Brevet. Students entering Telopea Park in Year 7 must also study a language. Six languages are offered: French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

Staff members at Telopea Park are also learning Languages. Many of the Australian teaching and support staff study French after school, in classes that are taught by members of the Languages faculty. Similarly, French teachers are offered after-school classes to help them perfect their English.

Michael Maniska – Quotes

Today’s students will be tomorrow’s global citizens. They will have to know how to negotiate a multitude of perspectives and ways of thinking. Learning a language is the ideal platform for this requirement.

Research tells us that bilingual students cognitively outstrip their monolingual counterparts. The benefits of learning a language are therefore as much about enhancing learning as about being able to communicate with others.

The sheer joy of being able to communicate in another language is matched by all the meta-linguistic understanding that students gain about language as a system. Many students comment that their understanding of English is enhanced as a result of having studied another language.