Languages Week

Languages Week is held in August every year 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, helping us to broaden personal, social, cultural and employment opportunities.

With more than 240 languages and dialects spoken in Western Australia today, Languages Week is your chance 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 you can do to celebrate Languages Week

  • check out the Languages Week Kit 2019 for information about the languages spoken in WA and lots of activities for early, intermediate and advanced learners to make languages learning fun and easy
  • visit the community events calendar to find out what's happening near you and don't forget to email the Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI) to get your event listed
  • if you work in a WA Government agency, have a look at the WA Language Services Policy and how it's being applied in your workplace.

The Four Words Project—a celebration of language

OMI has partnered with the WA Museum to develop the Four Words Project, which explores the personal meaning languages have for 11 Western Australians who speak a language other than English.

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 than 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,
  • 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.
Page reviewed 29 July 2022