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Languages Week

Languages Week is held on 7-14 August and is designed to raise awareness of the benefits of language and highlight the linguistic diversity in our community.

Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent. Language learning is an essential skill for life in the 21st century.

Language learning helps us to broaden personal, social, cultural and employment opportunities.

More than 270 languages and dialects are spoken in Western Australia today and Languages Week provides an opportunity to explore and celebrate language learning.

Languages Week also provides an opportunity to acknowledge the vital role of interpreters and translators in ensuring that government services are accessible by all members of the community.

 


What can I do to celebrate Languages Week?
Download the resource handbook for ideas on what you can do in schools, in the workplace, at home and in the community.


Fast facts about language in WA

  • More than 10% of children in Western Australia speak a language other than English at home (CCYP Report, 2016).
  • Research into bilingualism has shown that bilingual individuals tend to be creative & flexible thinkers, and innovative in finding solutions when problem solving (Baker, 1988) have greater communicative sensitivity (Ben-Zeev, 1977) and are more sensitive to the needs of listeners (Genesee, Tucker & Lambert, 1975).
  • Fluency and literacy in the mother tongue lay a cognitive and linguistic foundation for learning additional languages (UNESCO, 2011) so we need to allow children to keep learning their mother tongue and give them the opportunity to be schooled in their mother tongue.
  • Arabic, Auslan, Chinese, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Noongar, and Spanish are currently offered as second language courses in Western Australian schools from K-10.
  • Students in Year 11 and 12 have scope to study more languages as background speakers, such as Dutch, Turkish, Russian, Wajarri etc
  • The Western Australian Curriculum and the Australian Curriculum state "Despite its status as a world language, a capability in English only is no longer sufficient. A bilingual or plurilingual capability is the norm in most parts of the world."
  • More 250 Indigenous Australian language groups covered the continent at the time of European settlement in 1788. Today only around 120 of those languages are still spoken and many are at risk of being lost as Elders pass away" (AITSIS, https://aiatsis.gov.au/explore/articles/indigenous-australian-languages).
  • Language learning and proficiency is valued by higher education institutions. For example most universities in Australia offer a 10% LOTE bonus to students who graduate with a language in year 12. In WA, 4 out of 5 universities offer this incentive.

Languages in the Mainstream

Languages Week is being promoted as part of Languages in Mainstream – a 12-month partnership project between the Modern Language Teachers' Association of Western Australia Inc (MLTAWA) and the Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI). The project promotes the benefits of language learning in mainstream and community schools and the broader community.

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