Australia is a country that is thriving with multiculturalism yet it seems there are many cases of our current students slowly becoming monolingual. It was discovered that Australian youth study less languages compared to the youth from other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries (Tsung, n.d.). Students studying languages have decreased 27% since the 1960’s (MCEETYA, 2005). It seems less and less students are choosing to study another language forcing Australia to fall behind other countries where English is the main and primary language. Both in the US and in the UK, between 44-50% of high school students were studying another language all the way to Year 12 and as a second language for The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) (Eurydice 2008). In Sydney, 31.4% of Australians speak a language other than English at home but the problem that arises from these statistics is that if schools are not influencing, supporting and helping children develop these language skills, the maintenance of many languages other than English will become at risk (Clyne & Fernandez 2005). There is undeniable growing evidence that if Australia becomes monolingual, serious educational, economic and national security consequences will arise (Tsung, n.d.).
Group 6 conducted short interviews with students from 4 different schools to gain a deeper understanding of Australia’s current students and their experience with linguistic diversity in their schools. We wanted to find out if what we already knew about linguistic diversity in schools was true and if the articles we read online were relevant to a range of different schools in Sydney including those full of students from diverse backgrounds. As we were not able to physically go into the school for observations, we included a few questions in the interview to help us understand the linguistic diversity in the school playground where we would have originally planned to do the observation. Each member of Group 6 will be posting some photos and writing a blog post about their student interviews in the following weeks to find out just how linguistically diverse Australian schools are and if being a public, selective or foundation school impacts this.
Clyne, M., & Fernandez, S. (2005). Period of residence as a factor in language maintenance: Hungarian English bilinguals in Australia as a case study. International Journal Of Applied Linguistics, 149/150, 1-20.
National statement for languages education in Australian schools. (2005) (1st ed.). Hindmarsh, S. Aust.
The Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency,. (2008). Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe.
Tsung, L. Harnessing Multilingualism and Linguistic Capital in China and Australia – China Express – Issue 1 – The University of Sydney. The University of Sydney. Retrieved 3 April 2017, from http://sydney.edu.au/china_studies_centre/china_express/issue_1/features/harnessing_multilingualism_and_linguistic_capital_in_china_and_australia.shtml