Lesson Ideas for Teachers

Making multicultural Australia

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KLA/Subject: HSIE

Stage: Stage 3

My Language


  • CUS3.3 Describes different cultural influences and their contribution to Australian identities


This sequence of lessons uses video excerpts, a quiz and articles from the Making Multicultural Australia website to raise awareness that many Australians speak a language other than English and that use of first language is a right and is important for identity. The notion of productive diversity is also introduced.

Material to Download

Worksheet: Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Policy

Audio Interviews: Is Australia a multicultural society?

Audio Interviews: National Language Policy

Audio Interviews: The special broadcasting service - Ten Tears of SBS Television

Advertisements: The Media - Advertising

Documentary Excerpts: Citizenship - National Agenda Launch Special

Quiz: Quiz 6: How much do you know about Australia's population?

Suggested Activities

View and Discuss

  • Show the advertisement 'The Media - Advertising' to the class (see 'Materials to Download'). The purpose is to raise awareness of the fact that there are many Australians who speak a language other than English.
  • Discuss the following:

    • Why are there people living in Australia who use a language other than English?
    • Who is the target audience for the advertisement?
    • What does this advertisement indicate about the number of people in Australia who speak a language other than English?
      (N.B. That there must be a large number to make the advertisement worthwhile.)

Group work
Download the quiz, 'How much do you know about Australia's population?'. Divide students into groups of four. In groups, ask students to complete the quiz. Students may complete the quiz online or, alternatively, hard copies of the quiz. Record correct answers on the board for students to check.

Review quiz answers as a whole class noting:

  • the sizable proportion of the population who speak a language other than English
  • the large proportion of the population who are themselves migrants or the child of one or more migrants

Explain that Australia has always been a multilingual nation – before European settlement there it is estimated there were about 700 different cultural groups speaking some 250 different Aboriginal languages.

View and Discuss
Show students the documentary excerpt, 'Citizenship – National Agenda Launch Special'. As a class, discuss the following:

  • What differences might there be between the children?
    (N.B. They look like they might come from different cultural backgrounds and might speak a language other than English.)
  • What do all the children have in common?
    (N.B. They are all Australian and speak English.)

View and discuss
Download for students to consider:

  • the worksheet, 'Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Policy'
  • the audio interview 'Is Australia a multicultural society?' in which Professor Stephen Castles talks about the importance of maintaining language and culture
  • the audio interview titled 'National language policy' in which Professor Jerzy Smolicz talks about the importance of language with culture
  • the audio interview 'The special broadcasting service - Ten years of SBS Television' in which Anna Maria Dell’Oso talks about the evolution of SBS.

The aim is for students to develop an understanding that culture and language are intertwined and that it is seen as important, as well as a right, for people to maintain and develop their own culture and language. It is also an asset to Australia to have speakers of languages other than English, for example in the business world – this is termed ‘productive diversity’.

There are many bilingual/multilingual Australians. It is very important for them to use and continue to develop their first language as language is central to culture. It is a right enshrined in law that every Australian can enjoy their culture and language. Having bilingual and multilingual Australians is also an asset for the nation which can be utilised to the advantage of all Australians.

Preparation Checklist

You will need to:

  • organise computer access to, or download hardcopies of materials listed in the 'Materials to Download' section. For video and audio materials students may be given transcripts. Similarly, the quiz may be completed online or in hard copy. Students will need hardcopies of the worksheet.
  • ensure that you have obtained answers to the quiz. Note that these are only available by completing the quiz online and recording answers as you go.


Ask students to:

  • Investigate the cultural heritage of students in the class
  • Investigate the languages spoken in the local community
  • Where possible, investigate which local businesses might use bilingual resources and languages as part of their business strategy.

Related Resources

Not applicable

Lesson Notes

Teachers need to be sensitive to the fact that some students only speak English. Schools offer LOTE (Languages Other Than English) programs to give all students the opportunity to learn a language other than English.

Teachers need to ensure that only positive comments are made in relation to languages other than English and to diverse cultural backgrounds.

Teachers need to be aware that an outcome of students developing their first language (in this case, a language other than English) is that their second language (in this case, English) will be strengthened. Often parents and students need to be reassured of this.

Date Added:

11 December 2004