Language opens doors
Long-time Baldivis resident and German teacher Pamela Millar has been honoured by the German government, for her work in promoting its language and culture in WA.
Ms Millar was presented by the German Ambassador to Australia Thomas Fitschen, with the German Order of Merit in recognition of her services to teaching and community work.
Ms Millar is known to thousands of students in Rockingham and has taught German, French and Indonesian at Safety Bay Senior High School.
She has also worked at Baldivis Primary School and took up the role of German teacher in 2002, where she remained until her retirement.
“There aren’t many high schools at present in WA where German is taught, but we are hoping that expands,” she said.
“There are now seven primary schools in Baldivis where German is taught, we are assuming that will move into the two high schools.
Ms Millar said she did not start learning German until she was in Year 11.
“I really wanted to learn languages and I think I blame Agatha Christie, there was always little hints of French and German in her novels,” she said.
“The only language they offered when I started high school was French so I started learning that which I loved. Then they introduced German in Year 11 and so I thought ‘right, I shall do that too’ and from there I went to university and studied German, French and Italian and became a languages teacher.”
As well as a teaching career spanning 50 years, Ms Millar has held many volunteer positions locally and in the State.
She has been president of the Modern Language Teachers’ Association of WA and has held several office positions for the Teachers’ Association of German in WA. Ms Millar has also been Scholarships for Australian-German Student Exchange president for the past decade and said organising exchange programs was a great passion.
“I think one of the main reasons I received this award was for organising a Australian-German student exchange,” she said. “We had students from Germany come for 11 to 12 weeks every year in the middle of the year and they are hosted by families and go to school here and get to experience life in Australia.
“We also give out scholarships to send students studying German in Year 11 or 12 here to Germany for the same period of time at the end of November.”
Ms Millar said one of the best parts of the program was students got to organise some travel time to further explore the countries.
Under her leadership the program has grown and expanded aver the years, with many German businesses now offering sponsorships for students.
She said her favourite part of teaching German was watching students meet and learn about people from other cultures.
“Australia is this island that has no borders with countries which speak different languages,” she said. “Students’ eyes are opened and their horizons are broadened by meeting people from different cultures and speaking another language.
“It also improves their English a lot. I have always loved learning languages and I love meeting people from other countries, we have so many friends now from when I did exchanges, it’s lovely.”
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