Celebrating 30 Years of Chinese Language at Mount Lawley

Booklet Celebrating 30 Years of Chinese Language at Mount Lawley Senior High School

Mount Lawley SHS is proud to unveil the First Terracotta Warrior in an Australian School

To celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the teaching of Chinese Language at Mount Lawley Senior High School, our Terracotta Warrior statue was unveiled by the Premier, the Hon. Colin Barnett, MLA, the Consul General of the Peoples' Republic of China, Madam Wang Yiner, and the Minister of Education, Dr Liz Constable, MLA.

The teaching of Chinese at Mount Lawley Senior High School began in 1980 when Mr Geoff Davis was appointed by the Education Department to introduce the first Chinese language teaching program in WA schools. In the first year at Mount Lawley SHS he taught two classes, a Year 8 class of 32 students and a mixed Year 8-9-10 group of 10 students.

At the end of 1987, Adrian Smith was the first student from Mount Lawley SHS to be awarded an Australia-China Council Scholarship for a full year of language studies in China. He was the first of many students who have been successful in winning similar scholarships and competitive awards in national and international Chinese language competitions.

With the continued popularity of Chinese language at the school, a second teacher was required and in 1992, Mrs Anita Chong joined the languages staff. Both Mr Davis and Mrs Chong, in addition to their teaching, became involved the development of new courses for the Education Department and the Secondary Education Authority/Curriculum Council, a role which both continue to fill today.

At the end of 1993 they organised and led the first student tour to China. In the years since, the school has expanded its direct links with the People's Republic and. following the establishment of sister school relationships with schools there, has organised biennial tours with the hosting of Chinese school visits in the alternate years. In 2008, the largest group tour including 50 music, art and language students and ten teachers spent three weeks visiting Beijing, Xi'an, Hangzhou, Hefei, Anqing, Tunxi, and Shanghai. The band performed concerts in four Chinese cities.

A number of students have been awarded scholarships to study in China for periods of up to a month. Several have been awarded further assistance whilst completing university studies. Of this group, some have worked for the Western Australian Department of State Development, Aus Aid or Aus Trade. Their skills in Mandarin have assisted in improving ties between Australia and China.

Two students have studied at Chinese Universities, one currently in Nanjing. Both of these were also prize winners in the World School Hanyugiao Speaking Competition.

In 2010 and 2011 Mount Lawley SHS established a Chinese Hub with several contributing primary schools. This introduced Mandarin as a language for study and an appreciation of Chinese heritage and culture. The Hub was funded by the Department of Education through the Commonwealth NALSSP initiative. The schools hope to continue this arrangement in 2012.

Mr Davis and Mrs Chong working in 1984 to establish the Chinese Language Teachers' Association of Western Australia, (CLTAWA) each spending many years as president, secretary or in other roles. In 1994, they initiated the establishment of the Chinese Language Teachers' Federation of Australia, of which Mr Davis was president from 1994 to 2001, and Mrs Chong secretary until 2010 when she was elected president. Mrs Chong's contribution to CLTAWA over the years were recognised by her peers in 2009 when she was awarded the PTCWA Outstanding Contribution Award by the Professional Teaching Council of Western Australia. in 2011. Last year Mrs Chong became the National President of the Chinese Teachers Federation of Australia.

Mr Davis retired in 2006 but has continued to work in the school as a relief teacher and volunteer languages mentor. Mrs Chong continues to play a valuable role in the Chinese program, aided by Mr James Cheah and others. Mount Lawley SHS has a relationship with the Confucius Institute at UWA and the Australia China Friendship Society of WA.

In 2000, Mr Davis and Mrs Chong were awarded the title of "Outstanding Chinese Language Educator" by the government of the People's Republic of China and in 2006 Mr Davis was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his service to education including the introduction of Chinese into public schools in WA.