Queensland is and will remain a culturally and linguistically diverse society.
The term culture refers to the systems of beliefs, assumptions, sentiments and perspectives - many of them unconscious and taken for granted - which members of a group have in common, and the embodiment of such beliefs, assumptions, sentiments and perspectives in customs, routines, roles and rituals.
Each individual may participate in the life of different groups and may therefore take part in a range of different cultures, and make choices between them. For this reason, most cultures are in a state of change and development and are affected and influenced by other cultures.
The term cultural diversity refers to the understanding and sharing between different cultures and its positive value to society as a whole. However, there are often conflicts of interest and differences in power and status between different groups, and also between different cultures, which can occur at the political, social and economic level.
These imbalances can lead to the devaluing of cultural diversity, which results in a society in which the power of the dominant culture remains unquestioned and unchanged, leaving no space for other cultures to participate equally in the shaping of the national identity and citizenship.
Language diversity is an important characteristic of Australian society. 10% of Queenslanders speak a language other than English at home. Many Aboriginal students and Torres Strait Islander students are multilingual, with English being their second, third or fourth language. Numerous other students are bilingual. Some students are multilingual. Many of these are first-generation Australian, but a considerable number are second- and third-generation, where in their home and social environments, the main language is not English, or English shares the dominant place with another language.
It is important for educators to understand something of the varieties of Australian English. Australian English usually refers to the varieties of English spoken by people living in Australia. Queensland students may be:
During the process of second language/dialect learning some students may approximate standardised forms of English for extended periods. These approximations need to be considered acceptable forms of language. The learner's language development should be able to be identified in increasing control of standardised English features. Educators need to make judgments about the appropriateness of and necessity for the use of particular varieties of English according to the intended learning experience outcome. There will be learning contexts where the student's first, or preferred, language or dialect will be appropriate, and text in these dialects or languages should also be accepted.
Further information about the Education Queensland English as a Second Language Program is available through the ESL area of this site.Inclusive Education