Melissa Fawke (2016)
Melissa studied French and Japanese languages at Daramalan College, fell in love with both, and is now working as a French Teacher. Melissa is reminiscing about her time at Daramalan, her ballet career and wishing to become fluent in at least ten languages.
Which language did you study at Daramalan College, and how has it helped you in life?
In Year 7 I studied Japanese and French for electives and fell in love with them both equally! It was hard to choose which language to study for the rest of school, but I ended up choosing French as I was doing full-time ballet training during my high school years. I realised in Year 7 how much I loved French thanks to a wonderful teacher, Daryll Chislett, and made my back up plan if I didn’t become a Dancer, I would instead be a French Teacher. Through discovering my love for language learning, it helped guide my studies after school, where I studied a Bachelor of Languages at the Australian National University. I had the opportunity to study many more languages, which has helped me to become a Languages Teacher!
What is your fondest memory of your time at Daramalan College?
Competing in the OzClo (Australian Computational Linguistics Olympiad) in 2015 and qualifying for the State round at the ANU that year. We didn’t get to the next round, but that competition also made me realise how much I loved linguistic puzzles, which helped me in the linguistics units in my degree.
Also, getting involved in all of the amazing extracurricular activities offered at Daramalan – Choir, Mental Health Ambassadors (Captain in 2016), community service, Environment Group and Japanese Club were all so fun and engaging, and I will always hold fond memories of Choir Eisteddfods.
What are you doing now, or what have you been doing career-wise?
I spent my high school years investing myself in my ballet training, missing afternoon periods at school to go to dance and train early, as I was very set on becoming a dancer. Due to repeated knee injuries, I realised being a dancer was perhaps not for me, so I became a Dance Teacher at the dance schools I trained at. Through this, I also became a Ballet Specialist Gymnastics Coach for two gymnastics clubs in the ACT. After completing my Masters of Secondary Teaching, I am now a Languages Teacher at St Mary MacKillop College, and share my love of languages with my students. I still teach ballet in my spare time.
How many languages can you speak?
I speak English and French, and studied Japanese, Spanish, Ancient Greek and Latin at university- I am not fluent in these other languages- yet!
Why do you think it’s important to learn a new language?
There is a Nelson Mandela quote that was hanging up in a corridor in the Reid building when I was at Daramalan, that says:
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
I think it is so important to learn another language as it gives us a greater understanding and appreciation of other cultures, and deeper human connection with other people. I think this is especially important in a world with growing use of AI and translation tools- humans are social creatures and we crave that deep connection, which AI and translation tools simply cannot replace.
In addition, language learning is really good for your brain – studies have shown that those who continue extending their learning of language tend to have lower rates of dementia and memory problems later in life!
Which language that you don’t know yet would you like to speak?
One of my life goals is to be a hyperpolyglot- fluent in ten or more languages. So, I have a rather long list of languages I would like to learn! One on my list is Slovene, as my partner Ryan has extended family in Slovenia. I also have Italian, Korean and Swedish on my list.
What is your advice for current students?
It’s ok to change who you want to be, don’t be stuck with who you are because you are scared of becoming someone else. In high school, it feels like you have to know what you want to do and who you’re going to be, especially when everyone asks “What are you going to do after high school?”. It’s ok to change when who you are no longer fits you or what you want to do. For all my high school years I felt very sure of who I was and how I wanted to behave and appear. When I left high school, I realised that old attitudes and habits no longer reflected who I was, or who I wanted to be. Don’t be afraid of change within yourself!
Posted By , 05 Jun 2023