give them to be all that they can be, in as many dimensions as we can imagine.
In primary school, we are all scientists, authors, artists, musicians and athletes. Later we specialize, and
many of us no longer write poems, but we have done, and that matters. It gives us insight to ourselves and
others, and a basis to build upon if we ever want to change our direction later.
It follows that, in primary school, we should be more than monolingual. We should be, consciously, part of
The World. To have communicated with friends who do not use English, is as important as to have high-
jumped, or made something out of clay, or acted in a play. These potentials need activating early so we know
them to be parts our ourselves.
It is not obvious how this can be achieved. How can our children have this positive experience of linguistic
success, without impinging on the opportunity to experience real success in other, equally important,
The answer is to provide a simple one ﬁrst. Just as we provide a simple musical instrument, a simple game
for sport or a simple poem structure in literature, we can provide a simple language for primary use.
A descant recorder is a simple instrument that will teach a future ﬂautist, saxophonist or even pianist, useful
understandings about pitch, tempo, and volume as well as providing manual dexterity and the habits of
waiting your turn, reading music, listening to the the group, practicing when it is hard, recovering from
mistakes, playing by ear, performing in public and taking a bow.
Not only is it more practical to teach a simple instrument that the class teacher can play, but this is more
effective than giving a saxophone to an average ﬁve year old, which is just too heavy, difﬁcult and
discouraging and , therefore, likely to be abandoned. A two-step process, well-executed, gives the child two
happy experiences of success: mastering the recorder, then mastering the saxophone.
Similarly, Esperanto is a simple language which teaches that there are other ways to talk: other sounds,
other letters, other words, other ways to make sentences, other ways to be polite or rude. It teaches nouns
and pronouns and adjectival agreement and other grammatical concepts. It also teaches how to remember
things, how to re-word an idea, how to recognize an idiom, how to use a bilingual dictionary, how to be
patient when someone is struggling to communicate with you, and how to ﬁnd the courage to speak up when
you know that you might get it wrong. Esperanto can be used to communicate with a worldwide community
of a few million speakers from over one hundred maximally diverse cultures. Children in dozens of countries
are learning Esperanto as their ﬁrst foreign language, and good infrastructure is in place to facilitate contact
between them, in their new meet-in-the-middle language.
The job of secondary school is to prepare for adulthood, to start to specialize and to choose your identity and
direction. A conﬁdently bilingual child with personal experience of foreign language learning, and use, is
much better prepared to choose and commit to learning a third language than a monolingual child can be.
Again, a two-step process offers both more satisfaction on the journey and a higher rate of “arrival” , the
mastery of the target languages.
Australia has never had anywhere near enough LOTE teachers to provide for all its children. Fortunately,
new materials called “Talking to the Whole Wide World: Integrated LOTE and Intercultural Education for
Australian Primary Schools” have been designed for use by classroom teachers. The teachers learn the
language along with the children in the ﬁrst year of use. The process is fun and varied, including active
teaching, practice play, songs, jokes, intercultural research, creative applications, intercultural
communication and consolidation exercises.
Classroom teachers are available all day, every day, in every city and village and school of the air. They
know each child well and can vary time allowances and tap into interests for individuals. They can integrate
language learning to provide more frequent practice, more efﬁciently. Language immersion works. As
generalists, they model “normal adulthood”, taking LOTE out of the realm of unusual specialists and ﬁnally
starting to erode Australiaʼs monolingual mindset.
To be part of this revolution in Primary LOTE education, or for more information, please visit the website at