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Expert slams Helen Kroger’s comments about speaking English

A Federal Liberal candidate who said she was worried about the amount of people in her area whose first language was not English has been slammed for talking ‘nonsense’.

Tom Elliott argued it was important for those living in Australia to speak English to be a part of the community. 

But language expert Dr Miriam Faine said most migrants do speak English and Liberal candidate for Bruce, Helen Kroger, did not understand the concept of ‘first language’. 

‘That’s nonsense because you can only speak one first language and that’s the one you acquire as a very small child,’ she said. 

Ms Faine, who lectures in English as a Second Language at Monash University, said the number of people in Australia who speak little to no English was relatively small.

‘It’s about 2.4 per cent and a portion of those are Indigenous people in remote communities.’

‘So it’s not true that people do not speak English and do not make an effort to speak English.’

She also said it was important for society to engage with those learning the language. 

‘The research shows that people learn English or any other language when people talk to them and, more importantly, when people listen to them.’