The opportunity to speak Chinese outside of China continues to become more prevalent. From Canada to Australia, Chinese immigrants are settling down, raising families, and starting new businesses. The Australian reports, Asians accounted for the biggest jump in immigration to Australia. Care to guess what Australia’s most common second language is?
The most recent census figures showed, “Nationally, Mandarin has surpassed Italian to become our [Australia’s] most common second language…” In Sydney alone, China is only second to England for sources of immigrants. As the Mandarin language increases its reach and influence beyond the borders of China, it becomes all the more advantageous to study the Chinese language and culture.
Don’t be caught watching the Mandarin train pass by, get on board and start learning Mandarin today!
Chinese, Kiwis surge past English in 2011 census figures
June 21 2012 by George Megalogenis and Mitchell Nadin | The Australian
Nationally, Mandarin has surpassed Italian to become our most common second language, while Arabic (in third place behind Italian) and Cantonese (fourth) have relegated Greek to fifth spot on the bilingual ladder.
The top five immigrant groups across the nation are the English-born (4.49 per cent of the Australian population), the New Zealander-born (2.38 per cent), the Chinese (1.57 per cent), the Indians (1.45 per cent) and the Italians (0.91 per cent).
The Indian-born are rising the fastest in Melbourne, but in Perth, our largest immigrant centre, it's the English, the Kiwis and South Africans who dominate.
As Australia's cosmopolitan face changes in response to the mining boom, the differences between the capital cities and regions become more apparent. Our total population of 21.5 million on census night last August revealed a critical mass of diversity.
The Australian has used customised data beyond the generally released figures to show how our population is moving in three distinct directions.
Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Darwin are looking to Asia in increasing numbers for their immigration intakes.
On the other hand, Perth and Brisbane are becoming relatively less ethnic than the national average as they the tap new recruits from the commonwealth.
Meanwhile, Hobart and the regions lag behind the rest, leaving their population mixes snap-frozen in old Australia.
Dongmei Lin, 46, her husband Shao Yongli, 47, and their daughters Anne and Grace represent the shifting dynamic of Australia's immigrant population.
The Sydney couple moved from China to Australia in 1990 with little money to start with, and for the next four years both worked up to 90 hours a week in various jobs until they had saved enough to buy their own business.
More than two decades later, the couple run a successful chain of health food stores across the city, and employ 23 Australian workers. Like many other first-generation Asian migrants, the language of their birth country is still spoken in the family home, mainly to ensure 12-year-old Anne and 10-year-old Grace retain a close connection with their Chinese heritage.
"I try to speak in Mandarin as often as possible with the girls. They mostly answer in English but are slowly learning, plus they're being taught Mandarin at their school," Ms Lin said.
"Sometimes, the kids don't recognise our culture because they've always lived in Australia, but I think that aside from understanding their heritage there are so many benefits and opportunities by being bilingual."
Ms Lin said being able to speak English and Mandarin was particularly advantageous for her children
given the growing trading relationship between Australia and China.
The 2011 Census confirms Western Australia became the first state on record with more than half its population either born overseas or with at least one parent who is an immigrant.
In Perth and Sydney, the first and second generations comprise more than 60 per cent of the total population, yet in Hobart, the figure is less than 30 per cent.
Melbourne is the only capital city to replicate the national top five, but not in the same order.
The English-born are still top, but the Indian-born are second and the Chinese-born third.
The top three source nations for Sydney are the same as for Melbourne, but again in a different sequence - England, China and India. Critically, the Chinese are about to pass the English - the gap was less than 0.1 percentage points - 3.67 per cent versus 3.59 per cent last August.
Perth is the most interesting city of all. It's top three immigrants are the English, New Zealanders and South Africans. The English-born are 10.11 per cent of the total population - the only ethnic grouping to record double digits across any city.
Brisbane has finally caught up with the national average - it's total overseas-born population of 25.95 per cent is closest to the Australia-wide figure of 26.06 per cent. But it is New Zealand first, England second and India third.
Brisbane had traditionally received fewer overseas migrants because it was sourcing most of its new recruits from interstate.