Wesley’s new Languages Centre

Posted November 1, 2017 in School News By Community Relations

The new Languages Centre at Wesley College was officially opened on Monday 30 October 2017, with special guest speaker Dr Sascha Schmeling, Head of Teacher Programmes and Education Research at CERN in Geneva.

The centre has been designed to foster collaboration and cultural intelligence. In our world of increasing cultural diversity, the ability to communicate and collaborate inter-culturally is paramount.

Head of Languages Mrs Claire Leong says the importance of dynamic space for learning was solidified for her while visiting CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva last year as part of the French exchange program.

‘At CERN, being an amazing scientist is not enough. It isn’t simply knowledge that sets you apart, it’s your cultural intelligence and ability to work collaboratively with other brilliant people from different backgrounds,’ Mrs Leong said.

With that in mind, Mrs Leong said the team who designed the Languages Centre did so with a focus on real-world situations, as opposed to traditional classroom settings.

‘The opportunity arose to be innovative and we really thought about the bigger picture when creating our plans. We thought deeply about the space we wanted for students and the world we need to prepare them for,’ she said.

The result was an open, collaborative space where students can explore different zones and find an environment that best supports their learning.

‘The Spark is an ideas generating room, Create Space is where you might cook, there’s different performance zones and the Connect Bar is where students can access technology. We thought about all of our students and wanted to ensure there was a space in this centre where everyone would feel comfortable,’ Mrs Leong said.

The Languages Centre facilitates positive learning interactions between students of varying year groups and courses, but perhaps most noticeably, it has allowed our international students to have an influence over learning.

Mrs Leong said the centre helps to create an environment at Wesley where all student with all of their languages and cultures feel incredibly valued.

‘What we’ve noticed in the new centre is that students who have more than one language and more than one culture are having a strong input. Chinese students learning French or Indonesian will from time to time walk past students learning Chinese and give input and guidance, it’s amazing to watch that unfold.’

‘The environment supports that, there’s a notion that when you’re a learner, you bring all of your cultures and identities with you,’ Mrs Leong said.

‘We want our students to be intercultural human beings who can work and live along alongside other cultures easily. To have created a space that supports that collaboration and connection – one of our key indicators – is extremely rewarding for the teachers.’

Mrs Leong believes the space will inspire a new wave of Language students to think more deeply about the world and provide an opportunity to break down barriers.

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