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Toowong students bring songs alive through signing

​Toowong State School signing choir

​Students at Toowong State School are unique and special in many ways, including in their proficiency in mastering 2 languages and cultures.

The school is one of the only primary schools in Queensland that offers a bilingual and bicultural program using Auslan and English.

Running at the school since 2001, the program provides every student with the opportunity to learn Auslan. The national anthem is both sung and signed by everyone at the school. Staff, including the schools tuckshop convener, use Auslan and many parents and carers also sign, participating in Auslan classes at the school.

For the past 13 years the school has also successfully run a signing choir which is made up of both deaf and hearing students, who learn and perform together.

Head of Curriculum Mrs Elizabeth Fletcher explained, "Half of our signing choir is made up of hearing students, who are learning Auslan and who also love performing. We also welcome students from other schools who wish to join our unique choir.

We perform together at many school and community events and one of the highlights is performing as part of the Department of Education's Creative Generation – State School Onstage (CGEN). Last year we performed several songs including 'You Will be Found' from the musical Dear Evan Hansen and a 'Village People Medley'."

Being part of a signing choir requires distinctive skills as participants need to capture the meaning of songs and also sign in time with the music. Conductor Mrs Fletcher often signs song lyrics and uploads them to YouTube as an additional learning tool for choir members. This proves particularly useful to those joining in from other schools.

In addition to the signing choir, the school also strongly supports a number of talented deaf student dancers who have also participated in CGEN for a number of years. Interpreters are available for all dance rehearsals and also for deaf parents watching the performances.

Mrs Fletcher said the students feel a great sense of pride and belonging when their language is valued by the wider community.

"All students, staff and parents at the school are encouraged to get involved in our bilingual program. The cultures of both deaf and hearing communities are valued and form an integral part of our school, bringing students and the school community together," she said.

Toowong State School's signing choir will be participating in Creative Generation – State Schools Onstage 2019. Keep up-to-date on plans for this year's show at Creative Generation.

The Department of Education is marking Hearing Awareness Week from 3 to 9 March 2019. For further information please visit Hearing awareness week.

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Last updated
30 April 2019