A new anthology has shed light on the state of multilingualism in Australia with a focus on Sydney, revealing a shift away from European languages.
Multilingual Sydney co-edited by Macquarie University’s Dr Alice Chik and Dr Robyn Moloney, has revealed Mandarin to be the most common language other than English spoken in both Sydney and Melbourne, surpassing Arabic.
Speakers of Mandarin have increased by 71 per cent from 2011 to 2016, which has been in part attributed to international students being included as part of the census.
In Sydney, Mandarin speakers make up 4.7 per cent of people who speak a language other than English, followed by Arabic (4 per cent), Cantonese (2.9 per cent), Vietnamese (2.1 per cent), and Greek (1.6 per cent).
Meanwhile in Melbourne 4.1 per cent speak Mandarin, followed in second place by Greek (2.4 per cent), Italian (2.3 per cent), and Vietnamese (2.3 per cent).
However the fastest growing language group was found to be that of Indian languages, with NSW Department of Education material revealing that 46,357 students who speak an Indian language were enrolled across Sydney’s public schools in 2017.
“We’re seeing a lot more migrants from the Indian subcontinent. They are mostly skilled migrants,” Dr Chik told SBS.
Overall 35.8 per cent of people in Sydney speak a language other than English at home, which the co-editor says is much higher than the national average.
“There are more than 300 languages spoken in Sydney. There are 200 languages with more than 10,000 speakers,” she said.
“And [it] will continue to grow because of new migrants and people picking up new languages.”