The rise of non-native English speakers

International Languages Week in New Zealand starts tomorrow (Sunday, 17 August).  My bet is most Kiwis would not even be aware of the existence of International Languages Week, let alone know when this takes place.  The organisers and participants (largely school teachers and students learning foreign languages) have been faithfully running activities and programmes, celebrating ILW since 2003.  ILW offers language teachers and students the ideal opportunity to inspire the wider community to learn more about foreign cultures and languages.

However, it is disappointing that ILW doesn't get a fraction of the support or publicity afforded to the recently concluded Maori Language Week. Of course, the promotion of foreign languages in New Zealand shouldn't be at the expense of Maori language.  After all, the preservation and promotion of Maori language is of great importance to our nation. There are also more speakers of Maori than any other single language except English in New Zealand.

However, at the same time, it is worth noting that 1 in 5 New Zealanders, and 1 in 4 Aucklanders was born overseas, and my guess is the majority of these migrants would speak

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English as a second language.

Looking at the Census figures, the number of multilingual people has increased increased by 19.5 percent between 2001 and 2006. In the canada wellbutrin ten years between 1996 and 2006, this number increased by 43.3 percent, from 468,711 people (1996) to reach 671,658 (2006).

Given the sheer number of New Zealanders who speak a second language other than English or Maori, it is at the very least discouraging to see the underwhelming support for the promotion of foreign languages.

For those of you in Auckland, do take advantage of the free language classes offered this week.

Additional resources:

The official International Languages Week website:
The Google Discussion group :
ILW Facebook page:


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About The Author

Kenneth is Director of Euroasia. He is passionate about languages and cultures.