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Ministerial Speech: NSW Federation of Community Language Schools

It is a great pleasure to be with you all at the annual conference of the NSW Federation of Community Language Schools.

Some of you may know this, but I am incredibly passionate about languages.

So much so, I believe everyone should be learning a second language.

In fact, during Harmony Week this year, I took the opportunity to start a conversation about it.

I said for Sydney to really live up to our potential as a Global City, more of us need a greater knowledge of a second language.

And why not?

We are the most successful and diverse multicultural society in the world.

There are some 215 different languages and dialects spoken here in NSW alone.

You can walk around our many suburbs and hear that diversity for yourself.

So it presents us an opportunity to embrace our multiculturalism in a practical way.

Beyond that though, there a raft of benefits to learning and being able to speak another language.

It can help people connect or reconnect with a cultural group—language and culture are closely interlinked after all.

It can even help us understand the way other cultures do business, which would allow us to be more competitive in a globalised economy.

As a result, more Australians would be setting themselves up for success.

More people speaking a second language also makes us a more attractive tourism destination.

This is especially important now international borders have reopened.

It also helps new arrivals feel more welcome and builds on the successful multicultural society that we’ve developed.

On a more personal level, language matters to people.

I have heard from people how special it is to have their children or grandchildren learn their language.

It helps build a sense of connection beyond their family ties.

In starting a conversation about the importance of learning a second language, I highlighted a number of ways we can achieve that.

One of which was through Community Language Schools.

You play a fundamental role in recognising the value of children retaining their ancestral language.

But you do much more than just provide an avenue for learning words.

You help pass on and retain cultures.

Language is the vehicle to pass on culture, traditions and heritage.

So, I want to take this opportunity to thank you.

To thank the thousands of volunteers who work tirelessly at the 250 schools across our state.

To thank you for helping teach 30,000 students over 55 different languages.

And to thank you for providing an avenue to strengthen a skill that we all should be able to hold.

But, you are helping do so much more than just teaching a language.

You are providing opportunities for people to develop, grow and expand the very way they communicate.

And just as importantly, you are providing opportunities for cultures, customs and traditions to live on in younger generations.

For many years I have strongly supported the work of the Federation of Community Language Schools.

Not just because I am passionate about languages, or for the important role they play in strengthening our society.

But for the tireless work you do in supporting others, including during the pandemic.

You are in an incredibly powerful position, where you can communicate with thousands of people.

And the NSW Government is proud to be supporting the work you do.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you are enjoying today’s conference.

Again, I’d like to commend the Federation of Community Language Schools for working so hard to develop and support the multicultural success story that is NSW.

Thank you all for your tireless voluntary efforts to pass on language, culture and traditions to new generations of Aussies.