More language variety

IN CASE you had not noticed, Gladstone is changing.

It is not only looking different, Gladstone is also beginning to sound different.

The 2011 Census shows 87% of residents in the Gladstone city area only speak English at home, but that statistic does not realistically identify the number of people speaking other languages.

The census only counts permanent residents and misses foreigners with working visas and other itinerant workers.

Welcoming Intercultural Neighbours vice-president Nandini Bhakta has been teaching English in Gladstone for almost four years and says there has been a big increase of people learning English as a second language during that period.

"They definitely find it tough," she said of new arrivals learning English. "Some are really good at reading and writing, but lack confidence in conversational English. Some others have good conversational English but are not so good at reading and writing."

Despite the challenges they face, Ms Bhakta said those people were full of initiative and enthusiasm and were a valuable part of Gladstone's community.

One of the biggest problems for people in Gladstone learning English is the unique Australian vernacular that is so prevalent in a regional area like Gladstone.

Ms Bhakta said if the community showed patience, it would see the benefit of the town's diversity. She said employers should not look at foreign backgrounds as a potential hurdle.

A mixed region

Gladstone city area, language spoke at home

English 28,255 (87%)

Tagalog (from Philippines) 188 (0.6%)

Afrikaans 133 (0.4%)

German 64 (0.2%)

Spanish 59 (0.2%)

Country of birth

Australia 25,590 (79%)

New Zealand 1048 (3.2%)

England 710 (2.2%)

Philippines 369 (1.1%)

South Africa 266 (0.8%)

*Data from the 2011 census. This data does not include people on working visas, or other itinerant workers, so there would be an even greater portion of people in the region with a first language other than English.



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