What’s Your Language?

March 30, 2014 by

"Language is not merely a means of expression and communication; it is an instrument of experiencing, thinking, and feeling … Our ideas and experiences are not independent of language; they are all integral parts of the same pattern, the warp and woof of the same texture. We do not first have thoughts, ideas, feelings, and then put them into a verbal framework. We think in words, by means of words. Language and experience are inextricably interwoven, and the awareness of one awakens the other. Words and idioms are as indispensible to our thoughts and experiences as are colours and tints to a painting." — William Chomsky

It is a struggle to adapt to life in a different culture, even more so when having to  learn and use a different language from that of ones mother tongue. The 25% of the populationof Australia born outside of this country come from increasingly various cultural backgrounds. Language is a key criteria by which we identify and express ourselves. The cultural values and norms of generations are intrinsically bound up in the language used to express them. They are intertwined and inseperable. In considering the role of language in Australia it is essential to remember too that the Aboriginal culture ittself has many dialects. There are two ways to embrace language and cultural diversity: By providing educational opportunities for people in their mother tongue as a tool to confirm their identity, and also as a tool to invite speakers of other languages, including English, to share in the understanding of others that comes with speaking their language. Intercultural language education is already an important part of the Australian educational system. See the With more or less successful implementation across Australia. In operation since 1857, Australian Federation of Ethnic Schools Association (AFESA) ethnic schools are one of the many tools used to consolidate Australia’s identity as a truly multicultural society.

“ a society concerned with embracing and celebrating an infinite spectrum of diversity in backgrounds, histories and heritages amongst our citizens, and in allowing the possibilities that they bring from across the ocean to thrive and flourish in an atmosphere that values tolerance and acceptance. Ethnic schools are non-profit, after-hours institutions, open to students regardless of their linguistic backgrounds, which provide training and instruction in a diverse range of languages, with a view to preserving and celebrating the culture and traditions of Australia’s multicultural tapestry. They are designed to allow all Australians to revel in the mercurial richness of cultural experiences that our unique society offers us, through promoting awareness and celebration of multicultural issues, through building a true sense of community spirit – thus highlighting and embracing diversity."

One such ethnic school is the SKOLA MALTIJA SYDNEY. "Volunteers, Mrs Jane Borg and Primary Course Coordinator, Mrs Cynthia Villar collaboratively design and prepare the primary teaching program and associated teaching and learning resources based on the Maltese K-10 syllabus (Board of Studies NSW). The program is delivered by a dedicated team of teachers at each location. In addition, Mrs Anna Cuschieri, designs and prepares the Adult Beginners Maltese course as a volunteer service to the community. “Parents bring their children to us and we do the very best we can to give them the opportunity to learn their heritage language and culture in the context of Sydney, Australia. Our students’ identity is enhanced through the study of Maltese and this is what makes them better Australians,” said Mrs Cynthia Villar."

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, " Australia recognises, accepts and respects cultural diversity. There are few countries in the world where migrants have achieved the level of economic, political, social and cultural participation that they have in Australia. Foreign languages are taught in most mainstream Australian schools and universities, as well as in community ethnic schools, many of which are funded by the Australian Government."

" Human beings do not live in the objective world alone, nor alone in the world of social activity as ordinarily understood, but are very much at the mercy of the particular language which has become the medium of expression for their society. It is quite an illusion to imagine that one adjusts to reality essentially without the use of language and that language is merely an incidental means of solving specific problems of communication or reflection. The fact of the matter is that the 'real world' is to a large extent unconsciously built upon the language habits of the group. No two languages are ever sufficiently similar to be considered as representing the same social reality. The worlds in which different societies live are distinct worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached… We see and hear and otherwise experience very largely as we do because the language habits of our community predispose certain choices of interpretation. — Edward Sapir [1884-1936]

They say the language of love is universal though.

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