- VietSpeech book aims to support Vietnamese-Australian children and families to maintain their home language and enhance speech skills in Vietnamese and English
- Vietnamese is in the top five most spoken languages in Australia and the USA, and the top 20 most commonly spoken languages in the world
- The book has a potential international audience as Vietnam is set to become a key player in the global economy in coming decades
A culturally significant bilingual book about children learning and maintaining the Vietnamese language in Australia will be launched online at Charles Sturt University at 11.30am on Monday 7 March.
The book, VietSpeech Multilingual Children/Trẻ em Đa ngữ was developed by speech and language acquisition academics in the Charles Sturt School of Allied Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences and School of Education and is available free online.
Professor of Speech and Language Acquisition Sharynne McLeod in the Charles Sturt School of Education said Vietnamese is in the top five most spoken languages in Australia and the USA, and the top 20 most commonly spoken languages in the world.
“A total of 294,798 people living in Australia identified as having Vietnamese heritage, according to the Australian census, accounting for 1.26 per cent of the total population in Australia.
“More than half (56.4 per cent) of the Vietnamese people living in Australia arrived between 1976 and 1995 (ABS, 2016), meaning that many are either second or third-generation immigrants.”
Professor McLeod said a shift in language dominance among immigrants has been documented to occur within three generations. Therefore, the Vietnamese-Australian community is at a key point in time in terms of the maintenance of their home language.
“This book, VietSpeech, aims to support Vietnamese-Australian children and families to maintain their home language and enhance speech skills in Vietnamese and English,” Professor McLeod said.
“It contains many strategies to support families’ teaching of Vietnamese every day at home.”
Co-author Associate Professor Sarah Verdon said the book is the culmination of the VietSpeech research project funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant titled ‘Vietnamese-Australian children’s speech and language competence’ that began in 2018 and concluded in December 2021.
“While Australia does not have an official language, English is the language of government, economy, education and daily life, and the ‘monolingual mindset’ of the Australian population has been described frequently,” she said.
“This is in contrast to the fact more than one-quarter of Australia’s population is born overseas, and linguistic diversity is increasing because the source countries for migration are changing from Europe to Asia.”
Co-author Dr Van Tran said it is estimated that by 2050 migration will contribute $1.625 billion to Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) and increase workforce participation by 15.7 per cent.
“Vietnam is set to become a key player in the global economy in coming decades, with a population of 94 million and an annual GDP increase of 6.8 per cent in 2017, compared with Australia 1.96 per cent and the US 2.3 per cent.
“So the book certainly has a potential international audience, as Vietnamese is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the US and Canada as well as Australia.”
The free VietSpeech book is available here.
Join the online launch Zoom meeting (Meeting ID: 637 0972 3149) at 11.30am Monday 7 March.