Some Melbourne language schools have “English-only” policies that forbid students from using their native languages on campus. The team at SMEAG English encourages students to use English as much as possible but we know that there will be times in which it is necessary for students to communicate in their native languages.
The downsides of an English-only policy:
(1) English-only policies are used to accelerate the learning process but they can have the opposite effect by making students anxious and blocking their progress, especially at early levels;
(2) When staff force students to speak English at all times it can create a controlled and uncomfortable atmosphere that is not conducive to learning. School staff might seem more like police than teachers;
(3) English-only policies slow down the benefits of peer support. Students can often work together using their native language to quickly translate the meaning of a difficult word or grammar concept and then resume using English;
(4) A student’s native language is a huge part of their identity and cultural background. To take this away from them – especially when a student is going through a period of hardship – risks harming the student’s wellbeing;
(5) English-only policies treat students like young children who are unable to decide for themselves that it is a good idea to speak in English as much as possible while they live in Australia.
SMEAG’s English policy
Our team works to create a supportive atmosphere in which students feel comfortable to always try in English first, rather than forcing them. Our teachers will always encourage students to work in English during class and to profit from their time in Melbourne by always reaching for English first whether they are on or off campus. However, we recognise that sometimes students might still need their native languages for support.