Saturday, 27 February 2016

Apparently our SBS is setting up an Arabic

radio station - for 24 hours a day.
Now I probably need to explain to Upoverites that the SBS is our "multicultural" broadcaster. It was set up with the idea that the "ethnic" communities needed to have news broadcasts in their own languages and that the rest of us would benefit from some "diversity".
There are television news services directly from a number of countries as diverse as France, Germany, Turkey, China, and many more. There is an Arabic news service on both television and radio.
SBS Radio provides other news services in more than 70 languages. If you happen to speak one of those languages or you are learning one then SBS is a great resource. 
It is almost certainly a unique resource too. It can be very useful when trying to get information about voting or the census or emergencies to everyone in the community. 
But do we really need a 24hr service in Arabic? Yes, we have had some people from Arabic speaking countries arrive recently but their numbers are still relatively small. If they are going to stay here they surely need to learn English?
There was a very small piece on a news service recently saying that trams in some parts of Melbourne now give announcements in both English and Vietnamese "because our migrants find it hard to learn English". I imagine most people find it hard to learn English but the Vietnamese people I know here speak English, most of them speak extremely good English. One of them shrugged on hearing the news and said, "If they do not want people to learn English then they will do this."
I think the same might be said about the Arabic station. It is perhaps even more of a concern in respect of Arabic because cultural differences sometimes mean that some adult women won't get the opportunity to learn English at all. 
I admit that I find the foreign television news services useful at times. Colleagues who are out and about will alert me that someone is being interviewed and that I might care to watch or there is a different angle to a story which is useful to know about. I can, with the help of the visuals, understand enough in several languages for it to be useful. I couldn't by just listening to the radio. Now if it is like that for me isn't it like that for speakers of other languages? Won't they learn some English by watching broadcasts in English? Or  won't they bother - won't bother because someone decided that instead of for a short time each day there should be something available all day?
Is this "multi-cultural" care package going to divide them from the rest of the community?

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