Language and Culture Maintenance and Cultural Identity among Asian Migrants in Multicultural Australia

Dr Farzana Yesmen Chowdhury1

1University Of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia

Since the implementation of a non-racial Australian immigrant selection policy in the early 1970s, many Asian immigrants and refugees started arriving in Australia, from countries including Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, India, the Philippines, and Cambodia (Clyne & Kipp, 2006). The linguistic and cultural diversity of Australia has given ample scope to the study of language and culture maintenance among its immigrant communities. While the proportion of the population using a community language at home was rising, the linguistic demography started to change. Vietnamese, Mandarin, Filipino, Hindi, and Turkish had a steady increase in speakers over the ten-year period, while languages like German, French, Maltese, Dutch, and Polish had a steady decline over the same period. Based on the most studied migrant communities who have arrived in Australia from Asia after the 1970s, this presentation will provide an overview of how and to what extent they maintain their ethnic language and culture, emphasising the factors which facilitate it. Findings of this presentation show that the multicultural policy has enhanced the ethnic language and culture maintenance of recently arrived migrant communities in Australia. This presentation will provide insight into how Asian migrant communities think of their identity managing their linguistic heritage and cultural practices in multicultural Australia.


Dr Farzana Yesmen Chowdhury is a social science researcher with a keen interest in all aspects of sociolinguistics and cultural studies. She obtained her PhD and Master of Applied Linguistics in TESOL Studies at the University of Queensland, Australia. She has a strong preference for research of an ethnographic and narrative nature. She enjoys immersing herself in Asian migrant communities of all types and trying to understand their language and culture maintenance in a more holistic way encapsulating not only issues of language use, but also cultural practices and identity, and the associated factors which influence such practices and their wellbeing. Her research focuses broadly on migrants and their language, identity, family language policy, acculturation, wellbeing.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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