Smithfield State High School
Today’s Prep students will need to speak a foreign language to succeed in the future, a state teaching finalist who is piloting a French immersion program in Cairns says.
The Tropical North Learning Academy – Smithfield State High School is trialling French immersion in Year 9, with students learning Humanities subjects, including how to open bank accounts, the history of World War 1 and global warming, in the language.
Students have already achieved outstanding results under the initiative, which was conceptualised, developed and implemented by Tangi Montfort, who came to Australia from France eight years ago.
Tangi's commitment to developing students’ language skills, his leadership in the immersion pilot and his passion to change mindsets about foreign languages are just some of the reasons he is a finalist in the Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) Excellence in Beginning to Teach Award.
Tangi will be flown to Brisbane for the awards ceremony on 27 October, when Queensland celebrates World Teachers’ Day.
“I am passionate about language – not only French. You just need to work in Australia to realise that people speak many languages. I am not saying that English is not important – English is extremely important – but I think it is not enough anymore,” Tangi said.
“I think we always talk about 21st century skills – I just can’t see how the present Prep and Year 1 students can be successful in life without being able to speak two or three languages,” he said.
“Often people think ‘I have been very successful in life and I don’t speak another language’, which is true, but they don’t need to be successful in 25 years, they are successful now, so changing this mindset is very important.”
French is spoken by some of Australia’s Pacific Island neighbours, including Vanuatu and New Caledonia, as well as across Europe, Africa and in Eastern Canada.
Year 9 students in the French Immersion program already have writing skills above Year 11 students studying the language as a core subject.
Tangi is also making a difference through his involvement in the school’s Indigenous Leaders of Tomorrow Team, which is working on closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous student outcomes, and curriculum leadership roles in the Humanities and English faculties, in Philosophy, the International Student Program and Graduate Program.
Congratulations Tangi on being a finalist.