Alice Pung

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One of the major challenges migrants are faced with in Australia is communication barriers in terms or learning and understanding English and preserving their own language. Many migrants are not familiar with the English language when they arrive in Australia, causing language barriers, and have to learn a completely new language in order to be able to communicate. In ‘Learning English’, the main character Tom Cho talks about his experience with English: “When I first arrived in Australia, I did not know a word of English. I began English lesson…but I found it very difficult”. It is very difficult for migrant to be able to learn a new language while adapting to life in a new country. For some migrants, English may be the second or third language, so they have some knowledge of the language; however pronunciation of words is different causing difficulty in understanding and communicating. Migrants are not only faced with difficulties in learning English, but also with keeping and preserving their own language particularly the children of migrants. Many children and teenagers with migrant parents are raised speaking their own language but gradually lose their language skills once they migrate to Australia and start speaking English. Some children do not understand why their parents insist on learning their language while living in Australia. In Relative Advantages of Learning my Language, Amy Choi says: “Though I was raised speaking Chinese, it wasn’t long before I lost my language skills/I didn’t see the point of speaking Chinese. We lived in Australia.” Children or teenagers are surrounded by people speaking English and they do not think it is necessary to learn their language or keep practising and are no longer able to maintain it as it becomes too much of an effort. This causes barriers between the children and their parents in many cases as they are no longer able to communicate with each other because of lack of knowledge in English for parents and their...
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