History made as Brisbane welcomes its first QLD Tongan Language School
History was made and classrooms were packed as Brisbane’s Tongan community welcomed the long-anticipated QLD Tongan Language School at Griffith University Logan Campus.
A team of volunteer teachers, members of the Brisbane Tongan Community executive, media and a mixture of pre-school, primary and secondary school students in addition to a keen open adult class converged on campus to study a 12-month course in Lea Faka-Tonga the Tongan Language.
Convenor of the QLD Tongan Language School, Bruce Manu-Sione explained that the curriculum was developed with assistance from the NSW Tongan Language School with generous support from their principal, Mrs Uanivā Havea.
“The course is designed for beginners in all age groups and we are so stoked to see the diversity of ethnicities joining the classes, including Papālangi, Samoans, Māori and Tongans,” Bruce Manu-Sione added.
The first day of classes was opened in a traditional ceremony acknowledging indigenous Australians and a spiritual devotional led by Brisbane Tongan Community President, Rev. Maile Molitika.
Classes are structured around kinaesthetic, visual and audio learning methods, incorporating modern technology into the classroom to ensure students receive an engaging and interactive classroom experience.
“By the end of 2020 students should be able to speak, write, read and understand Tongan on a wide range of topics, which will culminate in our graduation ceremony on 28th November 2020,” BTC secretary Leilehua Fā‘onevai said.
The motto of the QLD Tongan Language School is Ko e hakau ‘o e ‘aho ni ́ ko e fonua ‘o ‘apongipongi (Today’s reef is tomorrow’s land), a metaphoric reference to the aspiration and learning goals of the school for growth and confidence in the Tongan Language by year’s end.
“I didn’t know that the glottal stop was a letter in the Tongan alphabet and I was even more surprised to learn that there was a Niuafo‘ou language as well,” one of the adult students remarked.
Classes are divided into Joeys (Pre-schoolers), Koalas (Primary schoolers) and Brumbies (Open adult learners).
Classes are run during school term on Saturdays from 2pm to 4pm at the Griffith University Logan Campus on Brisbane’s southside.
The QLD Tongan Language School is administered by the Brisbane Tongan Community Inc and has received Brisbane City Council support and is seeking further support from the Australian Federal Government’s Community Language Schools Grant Fund.
* Cover picture - Koalas (Primary schoolers) during lesson 1.1 of the QLD Tongan Language School