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ACT Scout clubs foster children's native languages

ACT communities are setting up Scout clubs run in their native language so that young people can employ their language skills outside the classroom.

International language communities across the ACT are establishing scouting clubs run in their mother tongue to give young people a chance to use language skills outside the classroom.

Scouts Australia ACT Chief Commissioner Peter Harris said the trend began in 2011 when the Spielwelt Organisation approached him about running scouts in German.

Since then the French-run Les Explorateurs, The Chinese Phoenix Scouts and the Spanish-run Pioneros had been established.

"Each community see Scouts as an exciting way to use language in context," Mr Harris said.

Mr Harris said he was in talks with several other community and cultural groups who are keen to follow the model.

He admitted reciting the scout promise in German, French and Spanish at each official opening was a personal challenge, but he was keen to try it in Chinese.

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Sarah and Phillipe Moncuquet volunteer as leaders of Les Explorateurs with their daughters Coline, 8, and Marion, 6, in the Cubs and Joeys programs.

"We are not language teachers," Mrs Moncuquet said. "We offer the children a chance to play and do activities in French just as they would have if were still in France."

Pioneros group leader Carlos Torres said there were just four children involved when the began the club, but now they had more than a dozen kids aged seven to 11 years old.

"Kids that age don't want more school, they have energy to burn and Scouts is a perfect opportunity to use language out of the classroom."

ACT Bilingual Education Alliance president Marina Houston said a drop in motivation to speak languages other than English was common in primary school children.

"At this age, the majority of their time is spent speaking English at school and when they socialise," she said.

 Dr Houston said creating opportunities to put language into practice was the key to make language development easier for bilingual families.

"The scouting trend is powerful because the children are almost unaware they are furthering their language development because they are so engaged," she said.