Community Languages Australia

Australian Federation of Ethnic Schools Associations Inc.

National CLS Day

About National CLS Day

Every year, on the third Saturday of May is National Community Language Schools Day.

This document outlines ideas for schools on possibilities on how to celebrate this day, as well as national activities they are invited to join.

The Message

“Why are community language schools important?”

“What do you love about your community language school?”

Community Language Schools (CLS) are an essential part of Australia's multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual landscape. They facilitate cultural continuity and social cohesion, providing cultural and language learning in an authentic setting. CLS are essential for individuals and communities to establish vital connections within Australia and abroad and keep cultural practices alive. Children can develop crucial language skills and multifaceted identities in CLS, giving them a sense of belonging and contributing to their well-being and opportunities in the long run.

National Community Language Schools Day (National CLS Day) is a day launched on the 3rd Saturday of May but can continue on with regular ongoing activities to commemorate it and to raise awareness and gain support from the wider public and important stakeholders. It also gives CLS members a sense of pride and belonging within the broader CLS landscape in Australia.

National Community Language Schools Day provides a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness about the important work that community language schools do week in week out, while highlighting their role in Australia to promote social cohesion and harmony. The day also helps recognise the efforts of outstanding CLS teachers and instructors while showcasing students’ work.

This Year’s Theme

Each year, a theme is selected to celebrate National Community Language Schools Day. This year’s annual theme will be Art and Culture: A Key to Social Cohesion.

The annual theme helps to give direction for the activities each year. This will help to create fun national activities that tie in with each other, whilst having a fresh take on the importance of CLS each year.

Over 100,000 students in 100 languages nationally attend community language schools to learn and maintain their heritage, background, language and culture. These schools also promote civic, social cohesion and harmony principles and values.

There are a number of ways to get involved and share with your community language schools. We want as many CLS as possible to participate.

The theme this year is art and culture: a key for social cohesion. Over the next two months, schools will be asked to make this a central part of their activities.

Art & Culture: A Key for Social Cohesion

Art and culture play a crucial role in our community, shaping our attitudes and behaviors and giving us a sense of identity and belonging. Whether it's through music, dance, painting, or other forms of expression, art allows us to tap into our creativity and imagination, showcasing the diversity of cultures throughout history.

One of the remarkable things about art is its ability to bring people together, transcending geographic boundaries and bridging different cultures. It breaks down barriers that hinder communication and understanding, allowing us to connect on a deeper level beyond language.

Art and culture provide us with alternative channels to better understand and relate to one another. Through artistic productions and installations, messages are conveyed and shared freely, fostering relationships between individuals and cultures.

This process of connection-building cultivates empathy and social awareness, strengthening the fabric of our community. Empathy allows us to see the world from another person's perspective, gaining new insights and understanding their behaviors and interpretations. Art and culture stimulate our senses, cognition, and comprehension, encouraging us to uncover hidden meanings and make sense of what we perceive.

Social awareness is also heightened when we engage with others' lives with curiosity and an open mind. This openness builds a foundation for a cohesive society, where people are more willing to know and understand each other.

Moreover, art affirms our sense of belonging and unifies communities by sharing personal experiences and historical narratives. When we include opinions, reflections, and feelings about social issues in these narratives, we gain valuable insights into different communities and their histories.

By collecting and sharing creative works that reflect traditions and themes specific to a community, we can foster a sense of connection and belonging. These encounters with others' thoughts and lives create resonance, binding people together and forming a cohesive community.

Four Approaches Towards Social Cohesion

In light of the positive impact that art and culture have on connectedness in society, there are four approaches towards achieving a peaceful and harmonious community.

1. Exhibition and Talks: Engage people directly with exhibitions and talks that showcase different cultures and traditions, providing a personal and intimate experience. This can be done through museum or gallery exhibitions, as well as virtual platforms like Google Arts and Culture, allowing people to immerse themselves in diverse imaginations and traditions.

2. Workshops: Arrange workshops and incursions that promote experiential learning, allowing participants to create hands-on projects based on cultural topics. This approach encourages deeper understanding and interpretation, while also providing opportunities for self-reflection and adjustment of learning processes.

3. Education: Incorporate arts and culture into education curriculums, providing systematic and accessible learning opportunities. This can be done in schools, community centers, and festivals, fostering the exploration and appreciation of different cultures.

4. Virtual Education: Embrace virtual solutions for global citizenship education, utilising technology to connect with diverse cultural backgrounds. Platforms like Sound Infusion allow users to explore culture through music, learning about the origins and creating globally inspired music. This promotes understanding and appreciation of different cultures.

5. Community Engagement: Organise events and programs at a community level to promote the importance of arts and culture. Local governments and relevant bodies can allocate resources to support and enhance community engagement with creativity and traditions.

Activity Ideas

The following ideas for activities can be planned and organised anytime in preparation for 18 May 2024 which marks the launch of National Community Language Schools Day.

Art Exhibition

Organize an art exhibition showcasing artwork created by students in the community language schools. This can include paintings, sculptures, and other forms of visual art that represent the students' cultural heritage and celebrate the diversity within the community.

Cultural Performances

Plan a cultural performance event where students can showcase their talents in music, dance, and drama. This can include traditional performances from different cultures represented in the community language schools, allowing students to express their creativity and share their cultural traditions with others.

Language and Cultural Workshops

Conduct interactive language and cultural workshops where students can learn about different languages and traditions represented in the community. These workshops can include language lessons, cooking demonstrations, traditional crafts, and storytelling sessions, providing a hands-on experience for participants to immerse themselves in various cultures.

Community Art Project

Collaborate with local artists and students to create a community art project that reflects the theme of art and culture. This could involve painting a mural, creating a sculpture, or designing a public installation that represents the unity and diversity within the community.

Film Screening and Discussion

Organise a film screening of culturally significant movies or documentaries that highlight the importance of art and culture. After the screening, facilitate a discussion session where participants can share their thoughts and insights on the film, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for different cultural perspectives.

Remember, the activities can be tailored to the specific languages and cultures represented in the community language schools, ensuring inclusivity and relevance for all participants.

Involving Parents and the Community

The Morning/Afternoon Assembly assembly or any other mode of communication that goes out to parents, should acknowledge that it is National Community Language Schools Day on the 18th of May 2024 (or 3rd Saturday of May).

Ideas of what can be included in your communications (speeches, emails, social media posts):

Involving Students

Create a Poster

Get each class to create a poster illustrating why they think their community language school is important. The posters can be presented and a school-internal jury can award one poster as “the winner”. This poster could be gifted with an appreciation card to the mainstream host school. They might hang the poster up, which would be a great visual reminder of the CLS during normal school hours.

Have a Cultural Performance

Teachers and students could be encouraged to prepare a dance, draw a picture, sing a song, and demonstrate some of their work achievements at the assembly as part of the National Community Language Schools Day celebrations. This will boost student confidence and parental pride.

Start a Student Council

As part of National Community Language Schools Day and also to involve students in future decision-making, a Student Council could be initiated, which will be involved in future planning. This will give students the feeling of being heard and considered. It will increase student loyalty, also as they grow up and inspire other students.

Reaching Mainstream Schools

CLS heavily rely on mainstream schools to lease premises to them. Mainstream schools might often not understand the nature of a community language school and why it’s so important. Here are some ideas to foster a healthy and good relationship with the mainstream host school.

Create an Appreciation Card or Poster

CLS can create a physical card to thank the mainstream school for supporting their school on National Community Languages Schools Day. Perhaps the best poster (see activity above) can be selected and gifted to the school to put up in their staff room, or on a noticeboard so all mainstream school students and teachers can see it and learn about the out-of-hour activities. This is a great way to build a relationship with the school.

Create a Digital Appreciation Message

A short video can be a great and easy opportunity to reach many of the mainstream teachers.

Invite Host Schools

If the CLS has a celebration or presentation planned, perhaps even on National Community Language Schools Day to mark the importance of the day, mainstream teachers and principals should be invited. That way, they can get an idea of what happens at their school out-of-hours and how important the CLS is for students and the wider community.

It would be best for CLS to include a short address to acknowledge the mainstream school representatives’ presence and thank them for attending and supporting the CLS. It is also important for CLS to have some student presentations or cultural activities planned for the day, to give representatives a very good idea about the school’s importance.

Visit the Host School

Organise for CLS Principals and perhaps even for a language teacher, to meet the mainstream school staff during the mainstream school’s teaching hours. It can be a simple meet and greet. However, ideally the CLS principal or teacher will hold a short 10-minute presentation with images (or videos), explaining what the CLS does and why it is so important. The meeting also gives a good opportunity to discuss any processes or identify practical improvements.

Contact Us

Community Languages Australia

Executive Officer: Fahry Abubaker

L2, 189 Faraday St,
Carlton Vic 3053

Phone: (03) 9349-2683
Fax: (03) 9349-26893