|SLOVENIAN SCHOOL Ivan Cankar GEELONG
Established – August 1963
Additional Cultural animators and folk dancing teachers:
Slovenian classes in Geelong were first held at Holy Family Catholic School in Bell Park, Geelong. In 1972 the classes were held at the home of Lidija Čušin, in Bell Park.
In her own words:
“I was born in Ljubljana in 1932. I was among the first generation of post-war graduates. I graduated in 1953 at the secondary school in Bežigrad. I arrived in Australia in 1970. I joined the Slovenian community in Geelong immediately on my arrival, as cultural animator and supervised the tour of the band Slak. I organised the children and youth for the band’s admission. They welcomed the band members and their accompanists with words and flowers. Initially, I began the Slovenian school at my home. There were ten students of varying ages and levels of language knowledge.
Students began with reading the verses for the Slovenian Mass. When the shed was erected on the grounds of the club in 1974, we moved in as a Slovenian class. The students had varying levels of language knowledge from a few words to common dialectic sayings. There were two groupings: older and younger. The older ones were quite well versed in common domestic language, the young ones liked to learn songs.
Our first performance was for Father’s Day.
The first performance in the new hall was in 1976 for the Centenary Celebration of the birth of Slovenian writer, Ivan Cankar. The students collaborated in the dramatising and reading of the works of Cankar. The men’s choir, under the direction of Mr Furlan, also sang the song, The blackbird sings nicely to me. Students were dressed in national costumes of the Gorenjska region.
At school, first we learnt polite phrases: how to greet in Slovenian − they learnt this well. We also learnt the alphabet, new nouns, days of the week, seasons, copied articles and short stories, repeated verses and read comprehension, numbers, singular, dual and plural of nouns. We learnt by subject themes − gardens, days and so on.
They enjoyed learning about times of the day: when I wake up, what I do in the mornings, and the remainder of the day. We spoke about what the first meal of the day was called. As a group they replied fruštek. I corrected them. Upon asking what we get on the table at lunchtime, they replied južina. I correctly told them kosilo. When asked what the first thing was that mum puts on the table, the reply was župa. I again corrected them with juha. Eddy Kontelj called out when he had had enough, “Which language have I been speaking?”
It was interesting when we talked about animals and where they live. I told them that animals live in a barn. When I asked them if they knew what hlev meant, they didn’t know how to answer. When they were asked the meaning of štala, Robert Bole announced that his bedroom was a štala.
We also learnt vowels and consonants and the correct pronunciation of the prepositions ‘s’ and ‘z’. In this day and age, even some people in Slovenia still do not use the prepositions correctly.
We talked also of different parts of the body, of gardens, blossoms, bees, beehives and collection of antiques, of colours.
We conjugated verbs and practised declensions of some nouns. All lessons were written on the board, sometimes they were found in books, and were written in their exercise books. We had some private texts for readings. Always there was dictation. I spoke slowly so that every sound could be heard.
It happened that a few times when I praised adults on their correct use of Slovenian, they replied “You taught us to do so.” They still remember all the passages and parts that they played on stage as children at various cultural performances.”