Learning foreign languages—it’s not rocket science, surely. No, for most Australians it’s much harder than that. Like many products of British Empire, Australia has always told itself that English is sufficient. It’s part cultural arrogance, part fear and part geography. The English language has spread like a virus, and there’s no denying that much of the World has accepted English as an ancillary language. But that also means that much of the World can shut us out of conversations when they revert to their native tongue.
These days we know this is a problem, but a solution seems to be elusive.
This is a story of how some brave souls are trying to tackle our linguistic awkwardness.
Prof Joseph Lo Bianco—Professor of Linguistics at the University of Melbourne
Luis Gonzalez—Coordinator of the Languages Program at the Centre for Adult Education (CAE) in Melbourne
Tam Foot—Teacher in the Vietnamese bilingual program at Richmond West Primary School
Lloyd Mitchell—Immediate past Principal of Richmond West Primary School in Melbourne
Kim Lim—Teacher in the Chinese bilingual program at Richmond West Primary School in Melbourne
Jennie Prout—Principal of Neerim South Primary School in Victoria
Shane Hung—Mandarin teacher at Neerim South Primary School in Victoria
Massimiliano (Max) Tosi—Teacher and coordinator of the Italian bilingual program at Gladstone Park Secondary College in Melbourne
Lynne Gutterson—Principal of Gladstone Park Secondary College in Melbourne
Helen Nwuobia—Nigerian-born Australian migrant
Sultan Hussain—Hazara refugee living in Australia
Sound Engineer—Carey Dell
© 2014 Michael Shirrefs & ABC RN