Why Study Languages?

Many students come to Westlake Boys’ High School looking for classes that will help them build successful and interesting careers. Others want to grow intellectually, to change the world, or to change themselves. The study of a second language offers all of these.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of language study is an expanded understanding of diverse, culturally-rooted attitudes and behaviours. Language preserves the history and traditions of a culture and learning a second language assists in developing and improving communication skills, and enhancing socio-cultural understanding.

Proficiency in a second language improves career prospects and helps foster social and economic benefits in, for example, the fields of tourism, education, international law, commerce, science and sport. With the internationalisation of the job market, students with a qualification in a foreign language are likely to have greater employment opportunities both in New Zealand and overseas.

Languages offered from Year 9 to Year 13:

All Years 9 and 10 students are required to study one of the above languages. We also encourage dual linguists if students are interested in learning more than one language. 

The following languages are offered from Year 10 to Year 12 in 2019:

Year 10 Students can also choose one of the above languages. By 2020, Korean and Spanish will be offered from Year 10 to Year 13. We offer an extension pathway in Languages from Year 10, in Chinese, Japanese, French and German. Students are all encouraged to take part in external competitions and proficiency exams to extend their level of the target language.


  • Head of Faculty - Mrs Heather Jeen

Chinese Department

  • Dr Ai-Hsin Ho 
  • Miss Daisy Huang (HoD)
  • Miss Hannah Kennedy

French Department

  • Mrs Suzanne Cornelius (HoD)
  • Mrs Bridgit Larsen 
  • Mr Fabian Downs

German Department

  • Ms Alyssa Marris (Acting HoD)
  • Mr Fabian Downs
  • Ms Alison Kelly

Korean Department

  • Mrs Heather Jeen (TIC)

Japanese Department

  • Ms Kiyoko Balint (HoD)
  • Mrs Heather Jeen
  • Mrs Suzanne Cornelius
  • Miss Natasha Collins

Spanish Department

  • Mrs Suzanne Cornelius (HoD)
  • Miss Daisy Huang

Te Reo Māori Department

  • Matua Johnny Waititi (HoD)
  • Whaea Alice Pomare

Why Learn Chinese?

Learning another language broadens students’ general language abilities and brings their own language into sharper focus. It enriches students intellectually, socially and culturally; offers an understanding of the ways in which other people think and behave; and furthers international relations and trade.

By learning Chinese, students can:

  • become confident in communicating with native Chinese speakers about trade, travel, or tourism, or in other professional, educational, or social contexts;
  • broaden their employment options, both in New Zealand and internationally;
  • come to understand, as they grow in understanding and acceptance of Chinese language and culture, how Chinese people act and think;
  • broaden their knowledge beyond cultural stereotypes and national boundaries, and promote tolerance and positive attitudes between people of different linguistic, cultural, and national backgrounds;
  • communicate more effectively with New Zealand settlers from Chinese-speaking backgrounds, and develop and maintain relationships with them;
  • develop the skills, understandings, and attitudes which facilitate the learning of other languages;
  • develop an awareness of the interdependence of all people;
  • use NCEA portfolio based internal assessments to develop self-management skill;
  • develop competent communication skills through language and cultural knowledge.

Trip to China

A school trip to China is organised every second year to enhance students’ understanding and appreciation of the Chinese language and culture. The trip also allows students to develop life skills such as self-management, relating to others and contributing and participating.

Cultural Aspects

This is an important component of the course. Throughout the year, students are provided with opportunities to experience Chinese cultural activities, including calligraphy, cooking, painting, folk music, martial arts, film and trips to a Buddhist temple and Chinese restaurants. In our junior programme, we have cross-curricular projects such as Olympic Games and Master Chef which allow students to think about how to use language beyond classroom setting, as well as developing cross-curricular competencies.

We have a partnership with our sister school, Dongguan No.6 High School, and we have regular exchange programme between staff and students. We believe this provides full immersion environment for our young people which would benefit them in the future. Through our exchange programmes, students are able to build genuine and long lasting relationship with Chinese students, giving them authentic experiences.

Westlake Chinese Night is an annual event which celebrate Chinese culture and tradition. Together with Westlake Girls High School, we have performances ranging from traditional Chinese dance to singing Chinese pop songs every year with a crowd of 2000 audience.

Confucius Classroom

On 7 March 2016, Westlake Boys High School has become a Confucius Classroom as an acknowledgement to our achievement in our Chinese programme.

Why study French?

Learning a second language gives students an important insight into foreign cultures, and improves cognitive thinking.

  • There are over 200 million French speakers worldwide and it is the only language other than English spoken on the five continents;
  • French is also an official language of the United Nations, NATO, UNESCO, the Red Cross, the Olympics and more…
  • an ability to speak French and English is an advantage on the international job market. As the world’s fifth biggest economy and number-three destination for foreign investment, France is a key economic partner. Ex: The French are a world leader in medical research and a European leader in aerospace (Aérospatiale, Arianespace, Airbus…);
  • French is the international language of cooking, fashion, theatre, the visual arts, dance and architecture. A knowledge of French offers access to great works of literature, as well as films and song;
  • France is the world’s number-one tourist destination. A little French makes it so much more enjoyable to visit Paris and all the regions of France and offers insights into French culture, mentality and way of life;
  • French is also very accessible from New Zealand with it being the official language of some of our Pacific neighbours. New Caledonia and French Polynesia (Tahiti) are very desirable tropical destinations where knowing French would definitely come in handy;
  • finally, French is a good base for learning other languages such as Spanish and Italian.

As the world becomes more global it is important that students are able to relate to and understand people from different cultures, and one of the best ways to achieve this is through language learning.

How is French taught?

French is taught and assessed according to the four language-learning principles of reading, writing, listening and speaking, as well as looking at the culture of French-speaking countries. From 2017, learning a second language at Year 9 and Year 10 has been compulsory. The aim of the Year 9 course is to provide a general introduction to the language and build up students’ abilities to use and understand basic everyday phrases to describe themselves and their surroundings. In Year 10 the French course is extended to incorporate a wider range of topics and grammatical structures.  2019 also saw the start of Y10 Extension, which allows students the opportunity to enhance their learning by studying Level 1 material.  This will then lead to Y11 extension.  The ability to develop communication skills remains a focus. In the senior school we offer NCEA all the way to Level 3.  


The French Department organizes trips every two years. In 2018, WBHS joined with Westlake Girls High School for a three-week exchange at the Lycée Saint-François d’Assise (SFDA) – a French high near the city of Nantes.  The trip then finished with a few days in Paris, the itinerary for which was largely decided by the students.  Our next school trip to France will be taking place in April 2020.

Cultural Aspects

Throughout the year, students are provided with opportunities to experience the French culture through various activities. We offer bakery days at the end of each term, where boys get to sample the delights of French baking. They also watch movies in French to enhance their understanding of spoken French.

Our annual Year 9 Olympics is a highlight for the boys. We explore the sporting culture(s) of France – learn about symbols, emblems, make flags and banners and learn the words to the gruesome French national anthem La Marseillaise. Our Year 10 students experience the French movie festival at Berkeley Cinemas and annual MasterChef competition where our students have the opportunity to cook something authentically French. Both of our junior competitions take place in Term 3.

Our senior students are invited to a French restaurant and the Y11s order crêpes while our Y12s and Y13s enjoy the delicious raclette (a melted cheese eaten with potatoes and charcuterie)

Students are also encouraged to take part in linguistic and cultural competitions organized by the Alliance Française and the New Zealand Association of French Teachers.  

Why study German?

  • There are 95 million German native speakers across all German-speaking countries.
  • It is one of the most important languages in Europe;
  • Students are able to develop awareness of German culture, history and customs beyond stereotypes;
  • Learning German increases students’ study and job opportunities in New Zealand and abroad;
  • Studying in Germany is a great option and there are no study fees to be paid;
  • It gives a strong background to students interested in science, engineering and music as Germany is world-leading in these areas.

German continues to be a successful subject at Westlake with students regularly competing in the annual Auckland Goethe Society examinations. Our school offers an exchange programme to Germany where we will visit Berlin, Munich and Stuttgart. Students stay with host families and attend a German high school.

We aim to motivate students to learn about other countries and their languages, encouraging open-mindedness and global awareness while developing an awareness of how the German language works. We aspire to produce confident and competent communicators who are able to use their language to tackle real-life situations.

In our German lessons we offer a lot of varied activities in order to bring the language and culture alive. We have German bakery days, watch and analyse German films and learn the language outside the classroom, for example when we visit a German restaurant where students experience German food and culture first-hand. Our German lessons aim to be interactive and visual. We use a lot of pictures, videos, PowerPoints and devices for revision and music to bring German alive.

Learning a language means to connect with other people and to become a global citizen and that ties in with our Key Competencies of participating and contributing. We explore the world views and perspectives of other people and therefore students become mature citizens and know more about Germany. In our German lessons we do this through various cultural projects and role-plays and there is a lot of fun to be had.

Why Learn Korean?

Korean is becoming more and more popular second language for people all over the world including young adults. This is probably due to factors of younger generations becoming more internationally linked together through Hallyu Korean Wave including K-drama, K-movies, K-pop music, food and so on. Korea is also our 6th largest export destination and more than 30,000 Koreans live in New Zealand. Korea dominates the world in technology, being the home of Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and Kia. Knowledge in Korean increases your potential business and employment opportunities. 

Currently (as of 2019), we now offer Korean courses at Westlake:

Year 10 Korean for Beginners: This course is designed for Year 10 students who have no prior learning of Korean language. The course is accessible to all, bus a high degree of challenge within it as well. Students will develop confidence and competency in communicating in simple Korean as well as their cultural awareness and understanding. The four main skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing will be developed to form a solid base for NCEA Level 1 Korean Studies. This course will also give students the opportunity to experience and appreciate Korean culture.

Y11 Korean Studies: 

This course is designed for students who have basic or limited knowledge of Korean language and culture. The aim is to develop students’ confidence and competency in communicating in increasingly complex Korean, as well as their cultural awareness and understanding. Also included is a cross-curricular component of Dance, where students will learn the basics of Korean martial art Tae Kwon Do and use the elements from Tae Kwon Do in a dance performance to express themselves, their ideas, and the ideas of others.

There are two internal assessment components – interaction and writing. Both will start from Term 1 and will be ongoing all year. There is one compulsory external assessmet and another optional external assessment in Term 3. There is one internal assessmet standard from NCEA Level 1 Dance, which starts from Term 1.

Year 12 Korean Studies: 

This course is designed for students who have completed Y11 Korean Studies or who have a good knowledge of the Korean language and culture. Students will improve their interaction and listening skills in Korean and they will be able to read and write texts on familiar matters. The Korean culture will be compared and contrasted with students’ cultural backgrounds.

The cross-curricular component of Dance will provide opportunity for students to develop understanding of Korean traditional martial art, Taekwondo. They will learn and practise Taekwondo movements and perform a Taekwondo inspired group dance.

NCEA Level 3 Korean for Native Speakers: 

This course is intended to assist Korean native speaking students who can benefit from extended learning of Korean language and culture. Also included is a sustained reading of Korean literatures, writing and discussion around current events. Recently arrived students are assisted closely to gain familiarity with the New Zealand education system, make smooth transitions to New Zealand, and further develop effective study skills aimed for high achievements in NCEA.

Why Learn Japanese?

Japanese Language provide various opportunities to students to explore and experience different cultures and customs as well as learning a new language. Year 9 Japanese students are expected to master all hiragana and Year 10 students are expected to master katakana and some kanji along with various topics and cross-curricular l projects such as FIFA and Master Chef Projects. All Japanese courses are University approved courses and it will lead up to NCEA Level 3 Japanese course.

  • Scientific research into language learning suggests that when you tackle a new language, it causes brain growth and Japanese is a very popular choice for language learners;
  • Students are able to develop awareness of Japanese culture, history and customs;
  • Japanese is the easiest Asian languages to learn and it helps to develop greater language sensitivity;
  • Learning Japanese would increase students’ study and job opportunities in New Zealand and abroad;
  • It gives a strong background to students on ICT field as Japanese language is one of the most common languages used in the technology area.

Authentic learning opportunity:

Immersion trip to Japan in April and Year 10 Japanese restaurant trip are the main highlights of Japanese courses at WBHS. Trip to Japan will take once in every two years and our next immersion trip will be in 2021. We also take Year 10 Japanese students to a Japanese restaurant every year when students learn about “food and drink” topic and use phrases in authentic situation. 

Cultural aspects:

Lessons are embedded with cultural activities and games. Year 9 and 10 Japanese students will be experiencing various cultural activities such as Origami, calligraphy, sushi making and sumo wrestling competition. External competitions such as Japanese Trivia Championships and speech competitions are available for students to participate. Students are also able to enjoy Japanese animation through WBHS Japanese animation club which is once a week during lunch time in F6.

Languages at Westlake Boys High School

For information about each course at each year level, please follow the link to the course information:
Languages Courses at Westlake