Wodonga languages school speaks up for future

Christine Varker says Wodonga’s Victorian School of Languages is at risk of closing. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL
Christine Varker says Wodonga’s Victorian School of Languages is at risk of closing. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

A LANGUAGES school that has operated in Wod-onga for 15 years could be axed if enrolments continue to fall.

Several language classes have been cut in recent years because of declining demand.

The school yesterday put out a plea for anyone interested in taking classes to show their interest.

The Victorian School of Languages’ Wodonga centre is funded by the Victorian government, but can takes students from both sides of the border.

The classes are held at Wodonga Middle Years College each Tuesday from 4pm to 6.15pm.

Wodonga supervisor Christine Varker said there was probably a fairly simple reason for the drop in demand.

“I think people just don’t know about it,” she said.

“And there’s a bit of apathy where people aren’t interested in their children learning another language.”

But Mrs Varker said she was sure there were many who would love to take up the opportunity if only they knew about the classes.

“I had a woman who rang me this week to enrol her children in a Japanese course who had only heard about our service through word of mouth,” she said.

The school is open for students from year 1 and above and for adults.

The cost for classes are $70 for students up to year 10, $250 for VCE students and $350 for adults.

Mrs Varker said the demand on courses had tapered off in the past few years.

Last year a Chinese language class was closed, as were advanced lessons in French and German.

Flyers had been sent to schools across the area, but none had put details about the classes in their newsletters.

The school once offered classes two nights a week, covering nine languages.

Languages now offered are Japanese, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Punjabi.

Mrs Varker said now was the time for people to show their interest, otherwise it might be too late.

“Once it is gone it will never come back,” she said.

“I am very conscious that in rural Victorian you don’t want to lose any of these opportunities for kids.”

The Wodonga school’s situation contrasts strongly with that in Melbourne, where there is a waiting list for classes.

“It’s an economic decision and I can understand that,” she said.