Australia’s second language skills are low.
Joanna Chen

5 Jul 2017 - 1:59 PM  UPDATED 5 Jul 2017 - 1:59 PM

Australia’s low multilingual skills

Results from the 2016 Australian Census showed that, despite an increase in the amount of people from multicultural communities, Australia’s second language skills remain low. Some experts are saying this 'needs urgent attention.' 

Compared to many other OECD countries, where high-schoolers finish their education with knowledge of at least one other language, only about 10 per cent of students in Australia graduate with second-language knowledge.

Learning through Asian pop culture

For those who are interested in Asian content, the language becomes much more appealing. From wanting to understand your favourite group’s songs, variety show appearances, social media posts, videos, and radio programs, to simply being able to watch a TV program or anime with no subtitles, it makes you want to know the language, even if it’s just the basics.

The best thing is, this type of learning is more fun because it’s not a chore. Encouraging second-language skills through avenues like pop culture is a great way for immersive education.

Top 3 ways to learn through entertainment

For starters, song lyrics are a great place to begin; finding a song you love and pulling up a translation next to it. From there, you can identify key words which correlate, and confirm through running the original text through an online dictionary. Once you get more familiar with the lyrics and reading the alphabet (if it’s an alphabetic language) or characters (if pictographic language), you can challenge yourself at Karaoke, where you’ll improve your reading speed.

Another great way to pick up a language is through watching TV shows or anime, with no subtitles. Watch it the first time around without any subs. Of course, you might not understand anything, but that’s alright, you’re just picking up the context and sounds at this point. Then, watch it again with subtitles! You’ll find that you’ll be able to match up words and sounds better because you’ve seen the drama, film, or anime once before.

Finally, social media is a fun way to learn another language. Maybe your favourite celebrity uses Twitter or Instagram, so you can try to translate the captions yourself before checking a native speaker’s translation. Similarly, reading short news articles (maybe about a new album announcement) can help expand vocabulary.

Come on Australia, get into Asian pop and let’s improve our language literacy!

Have you learned a second language through your love of Asian pop culture? What tricks and tips do you have? Share your experiences with us on Twitter and Facebook @SBSPopAsia!

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