Illalong News

  • 6th July, 2017

A Taste of the Exotic – Intertwining Language and Culture in the Classroom

Language and culture cannot be separated. Language is vital to understanding our unique cultural perspectives. Language is a tool that is used to explore and experience our cultures and the perspectives that are embedded in our cultures.  Buffy Sainte-Marie

It was an exciting end to Term 2 in many of our Language classes in the Senior School, with students having the opportunity to experience first-hand Japanese and Hispanic culture and put into practise the customs and activities they have been studying. Last term, the Year 8 Japanese classes researched Japanese Gardens, and were able to capture the essence of Zen through experiencing the art of the Tea Ceremony, and Aiki Jutsu (martial art). The Year 8 Spanish classes were treated to a cooking master class of South American cuisine to complete their unit on food. To test their knowledge of the dishes studied during their Restaurant Unit, the Year 9 Japanese classes also tried their hand at cooking Obento, a box-style Japanese lunch, and it is hoped that they can now prepare their own lunches at home! The Year 11 Japanese class also discovered the true meaning of the Japanese dish, Okonomiyaki – roughly translated, ‘As you like it’, by cooking their own version of this regional dish of Southern Japan.

To capture the true spirit of student participation in these cultural activities, we would like to share some of the reflections students wrote about their experiences.

Year 8 Spanish Cooking

This week, our everyday Monday morning Year 8 Spanish class transformed from students into eager and excitable junior chefs. We were all anticipating what we would cook and many whispers of wonder and joy were heard when it was announced that we would be cooking not one, but two beautiful Hispanic dishes; Columbian Arepas and Mexico’s crown jewel - Guacamole. Work began right away as teams frantically decided just how much tabasco their group really needed in their guacamole to avoid leaving school with a singed tongue. As the scooping and vicious mashing of the avocados began, the class noticed a new face entering the room. A Columbian chef was going to demonstrate how to cook her national dish, Arepas - a delicate bread fried with a cheesy surprise buried in the middle. As the guacamole making finished and the class observed the chef’s demonstration, work began on the Arepas. With nearly no time left, teams frantically kneaded and cooked the hot dough, while the aroma of the delicious food made everyone’s mouth water. The dawn of morning tea saw the class devour the food - faster than anyone knew possible from a group of hungry teenagers. This experience was incredible and definitely worthwhile and valuable as it utilised all the speaking and listening skills we had learnt in the classroom, based on term two’s unit, ‘La Comida’ (food), in a practical situation. This made the experience memorable and I believe that it is safe to say that the whole class appreciated being submerged in the rich culture of a little thing we call Hispanic food.  

Bita Shahidzadeh Mahani, Year 8 Student

Year 8 Japanese Garden Incursion

Our Japanese incursion was held on Friday 9 June 2017 to help students learn about Japanese culture. The incursion started with a martial arts demonstration in the Performing Arts Centre by two members of the Aiki Jujitsu School, who showed us their defence skills, using a variety of weapons and free hand. They showed us how a person being attacked could use different techniques and mental images using only little strength. The demonstration was fascinating to watch, and we learnt a bit about martial arts as well and how we can defend ourselves in different circumstances.

The next presentation was a Japanese tea ceremony in the Performing Arts Centre pavilion. We sat quietly around a mat while a Japanese Tea Ceremony Instructor demonstrated how a traditional tea ceremony would take place. Two students acted in part of the ceremony and they were served freshly made tea that we had the privilege to watch being made. Making the green tea is an art and the host requires training and skills to be able to make the tea and perform the ceremony. Her movements were delicate as she silently moved around opening special boxes and pouring the tea into beautiful bowls for her two guests. Both the host and her guests wore traditional Japanese outfits. After the ceremony finished, the class was served a small cup of iced green tea each with some Japanese candies in a small origami paper holder. The whole ceremony had a sense of serenity that placed the guests into a calm pleasant mood.

After the tea ceremony, we ate Japanese Bento Box lunches provided for us. The whole experience was both fun and educational. We learnt about the different types of culture and activities in Japan. The martial arts demonstration and tea ceremony have helped develop our understanding of Japanese culture and we will be able to use this knowledge in future Japanese assignment.

Abigail Burnell, Year 8 Student

We were so fortunate to be assisted by many members of our local community, and I would like to thank the following people for giving their time to provide our students with these experiences:

  • Mrs Sachiyo Seki, Tea Ceremony Teacher;
  • Chris and Joe from Aiki Jutsu;
  • Crazy Fish Sushi Restaurant for providing the Year 8 Obento;
  • Colombian Chef, Ms Janneth Zarate Beltran for the South American Cooking workshop; and
  • Mrs Kiyo Kinja, Mrs Yuki Webster and Mrs Misako Burt for their kind and expert assistance with the Year 9 Obento cooking demonstration. 

Cheyne Sandercoe - Head of Languages Faculty

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