The school proved a successful model, in time adopted by other Australian states in their efforts to provide for all the languages required by a growing, linguistically and ethnically diverse immigrant population. With its flexible structure it was able to provide for the language requirements of the Australian multicultural society. In Victoria it expanded progressively in response to Victoria”s language needs in the city and country areas.
In 1976 colleagues were contacted in Slovenia, Trieste, and the USA regarding suitable textbooks, which had to be approved by the school. It was fortunate that we had willing friends who made sure that books were sent in time for the beginning of the school year. In the USA we were assisted by Prof Edi Gobec (Slovenian Research Center of America) and in Trieste Prof. Martin Jevnikar collected a sufficient number of lower secondary and primary school readers to supply all three centres.
The teachers were all experienced and developed their own strategies to deal with a range of problems. While they had extensive teaching materials, these needed to be adapted to the capabilities of the students. It was soon discovered that no suitable course book existed, so teachers made use of the available materials, selecting from the texts the most interesting, highlighting some aspect of Slovenian culture, and adapting it to the students standard. In this, they were remarkably successful.
The topics developed for the Slovenian Course Outlines reflected a strong bias towards culture and cultural activities. They ranged from the personal to a community-based focus. At lower levels focusing on customs and traditions and broadened at higher levels by exploring historical and literary themes, integrating as much as possible the personal and social fields in the suggested activities and the texts selected for study. Literary themes were explored, including the life experience of the poet, the historical context of his literary productions and personal experience of family and friends.
It was a great new approach to the study of languages. Students were given a sense of what it means to communicate and use the language in social interaction. For example the students in 1991 were given as a task in Unit 1 a conversation to be prepared by two or three students working together. The situation was a chance meeting in a chosen setting between the students and a person from Slovenia, who heard them speaking in Slovenian. They expressed amazement, introduced themselves, exchanged some information about where they were from and whom they were visiting.
Following the consolidation of the VCE levels 11 & 12, the CSF reform of all levels of school education called CSF began, initially with intensive series of professional development sessions, which included curriculum development.
During the year students were required to submit several written pieces, in different types of writing and a variety of formats. They were required to write in an imaginative or personal or informative or persuasive style, choosing at least two different types.
Slovenian primary school readers were a rich source of materials, although by and large the lower grades were both too difficult and too simple. Useful were illustrations and certain literary forms such as humorous children”s poems and riddles. A wide variety of resources are used for the language and cultural studies of contemporary Slovenia and are referenced in the curriculum, the emphasis is on authentic language materials, Web resources, video, audio materials, media sources such as radio, journals, magazines, newspapers, television and the Internet.
Altogether 82 students completed the Victorian Certificate of Education from 1980 to 2005. They were dedicated young Slovenian Australians, who dedicated a great deal of effort to attend classes on Saturdays, often travelling some distance.