Connecting across cultures


At Beaconhills College, students learn the importance of cultural diversity and their responsibilities as global citizens.

Learning new languages and experiencing different ways of life is an exciting journey of discovery for Beaconhills College students and international student visitors. One of the college’s key “Learning that Matters” principles is that students learn the importance of cultural diversity and their responsibilities as global citizens.

The school’s Global Beacons centre is the gateway to a huge amount of two-way traffic. Each year, dozens of Beaconhills students visit, volunteer and study in countries across the world and in return many international students come to Beaconhills.

The school’s strong connections with sister schools in Japan, China and France have given Beaconhills’ and its sister schools’ students the chance to appreciate each other’s differences, as well as discover many similarities.


Beaconhills’ Mandarin teacher Yanie Chen says learning a second language helps students understand the views of people from different backgrounds. For example, she believes there are many differences and some similarities between Chinese and Australians in the ways they think, communicate, what they regard as important as well as their values and goals.

In China, she says students tend to value their study scores over sport, whereas in Australia sometimes the reverse is the case.

Student-teacher relationships in China are also different, with students rarely challenging what teachers say. “In Australia, the relationship between teachers and students can be more relaxed depending on the year group,” says Yanie. “Often teachers and students can have open discussions about controversial issues and students are encouraged to have critical thinking.”

She adds that whether Chinese or Australian, for teenagers, friendships are just as important to each student.

Family life

Spending time living with a family in the country you are visiting is the best way to discover how people live.

Beaconhills students, through the school’s LOTE (Languages Other Than English) programs, have enjoyed homestay experiences with families in Laval, France, as well as its sister schools in Japan and China. Dozens of Beaconhills families have in turn hosted students from across the globe, from south-east Asia, German, Sweden, Italy, France and Switzerland.

International Programs co-ordinator Susan Wood says homestay is an enriching experience for both hosts and guests.

For visiting Chinese students — many of whom born during the time of the one-child policy in China — the experience of sitting down to dinner with a larger family is a unique one.

For the students travelling overseas, it is fascinating to learn how other families live: what they eat, their hobbies and interests.

Susan says for visiting students learning English, homestay is a great way to improve language skills. “What we find with our families is that they all get by with a lot of smiles, hand gestures and drawing,” she says. “Board games, such as Scrabble or Pictionary, are a big component of the evenings and are really good for practising English.”

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