Cultural and linguistic diversity in Australian 4- to 5-year-old children and their parents

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This paper describes the cultural and linguistic diversity of Australian preschool children and their parents in order to guide resourcing, assessment, and intervention practices. Data were analysed from a nationally respresentative sample of 4983 Australian preschool children. Over one-fifth (21.9%) spoke English as their first language. The majority (86%) spoke English as their first language; and 12.2% of the children spoke one of the 35 other languages. AfterEnglish, the most common first languages were: Arabic (1.6%), Cantonese (1.3%), Vietnamese (1%), Greek (0.8%), and Mandarin (0.8%). Italian was the most common additional language, spoken by 2.9% of the children. Commonly spoken children's languages differed by state/territory and showed different trends compared with Australian census data. Most of the children's parents spoke English as the primary language at home (parent 1: 82.5%; parent 2:69.8%); however, 42 other primary languages were also spoken. Significant resourcing of the Australian speech pathology, early years education, and interpreting sectors is required to accomadate the diversecultural and linguistic heritage of children. Resourcing should be based on data about Australia's children, rather than the publicly available Australian census data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-119
Number of pages8
JournalACQuiring knowledge in speech, language and hearing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Grant Number

  • FT0990588


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