‘Languages in Our Landscape’ Awards Ceremony

The Languages in Our Landscape Award Ceremony was well attended by 120 students, parents, teachers and special guests to present certificates to shortlisted entries and prizes to the winners of each age category. Entertainment in Indonesian, Papuan, Noongar and English was provided by Indonesian singer Michael J accompanied by his band.

Lorraine Thomas, Director of Community Engagement and Funding, Office of Multicultural Interests (OMI), shared how her experience of learning several languages; Visayan, Yawuru, Indonesian, German and Spanish and Wongi, has instilled a curiosity and passion for language and culture and developed the pathway towards her role at OMI today. Lorraine spoke about the Community Languages Program (CLP) and how it provides support to not-for-profit community organisations to teach languages other than English and cultural maintenance programs after school hours. Support for these schools which number 98, teaching 55 languages can be found here. Lorraine said:

“These schools are really about language learning in the genuine context, so for communities that want to retain their cultural identity and can pass that onto their children. The program compliments languages education in mainstream schools and contributes to social cohesion. The CLP supports the sustainability of these schools.”

Mr Duncan Ord, OAM, Director General of the Department of Local Government, Sport & Cultural Industries was the final speaker, who also reflected on his personal experience where language loss throughout his family’s own heritage (Italian) aided the disconnection to people and places, and grieving for a culture lost. From such an experience he understand the value of language:

“Language is essential to cultural identity and cultural makings. In today’s world of instant communication and connections with people in every part of the globe, knowing more than one language gives us unparalleled advantages and insights. It also helps us to gain awareness of the many benefits offered by WA’s amazing cultures from our First Peoples to our most recent emerging communities… When we embrace other languages, we build better relationships with others in our community and within this country… Language learning should be a key part of education for every West Australian and should be something we build upon from an early age all the way into later life.”

Reflecting on the week and its events, Duncan commended “… the Modern Language Teachers’ Association of Western Australia for their work in promoting language education in the state and in particular I commend the Association for your initiative in offering WA’s first Languages Week on this scale. I have no doubt this week has opened doors for many to begin learning a new language or to commit to the language they have some knowledge of… I would like to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of the many language teachers in Western Australia and involvement of community members for maintaining their languages.”

Finally certificates were awarded to shortlisted candidates and prizes awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in three age categories, with Year 6 student, Mahsa Huq, taking out the People’s Choice Award with her photo and description:

“This Arabic writing was found on the lid of a juice bottle and translates to ‘shake well before opening’ in English. It has been included to assist Arabic-speaking people living in Australia to understand what is written on the bottle. These days, Arab culture has spread immensely in Australia and Arabic is such a widespread and maintained language that Arabic writing is required on everyday items that we may find in our houses, as shown on this juice bottle. Putting a variety of languages, such as Arabic, on household objects helps to increase multiculturalism in Australia, and allows Australians with an Arabic heritage to have a stronger identity and link with their original country. Not only does this promote multiculturalism, but it also allows Arab people to feel a stronger connection to Australia through the recognition of their original country, helping to build up a patriotic identity.”

The MLTAWA appreciates the generous support and supply of exhibition display boards from Presbyterian Ladies College. Thank you to MC Kelly Barron and congratulations to our winners.