±A - Join Our Community

Learn from the experiences of other expats and make new friends in our disccussion forums and Facebook groups

±A - Cigna

±A - Read Our Guide

The Expat Focus Guide to Moving Abroad contains everything you need to know when planning an international relocation available now, completely free

±A - Compare Quotes and Save

Insurance, FX and international movers

±A - Listen to the Podcast

The Expat Focus podcast features interviews with expats living abroad and service providers meeting their needs subscribe today!

±A - Expert Financial

From our tax, investment and FX partners

±A - ExpatFocus Partners

Expat Focus Partners

Become a Partner. Click Here.

Speaking the Language

Australia - Speaking the Language

There is no official language in Australia. However, English is the most used language. Most Australians speak English as their first language. In addition, English is the de-facto language for doing business and is widely used in most workplaces. However, there are a good number of people who speak other languages too. There are about a million expats living in Australia who are unable to speak English.

Sydney, which is one of the multicultural cities in Australia, has the highest number of people who speak an alternative language. Melbourne and Sydney host about 65 percent of non-English-speaking expats who cumulatively make up some of the 240 different languages spoken in Australia. Many expats use their mother tongue on a daily basis and have a minimal grasp of English.

Incorporation of English into the Local Language

Australian English is somewhat similar to British English though it has a different vernacular known as Strine. This language is one of Australia’s creative products and it is full of word tweaking, abbreviations, profanities, hyperboles, and idiosyncratic expressions. The language traces its origin to Cockney and the Irish slang used by early convicts. Every region uses Strine words differently as the language has adopted many words from Aboriginal languages.

Most Australians are not sure whether to use British or American spelling and it is common for misspellings to occur in their writing. Some English words have different meanings in Australia compared to other English speaking countries. A few examples of such words include game (brave), knock (criticize), and tube (can of beer). Australian English is full of abbreviations. This is normally done by shortening any word with more than two syllables then adding either an “ie” or “o” at the end. For example, a refugee will be referred to as a reffo and a truck driver a truckie.

Regional Variations and Dialects

The Australian accent has variations in every region though the difference can be minimal making it difficult for foreigners to detect. The accents of people living in isolated communities in the Australian outback are more varied and distinct compared to the accents of urban communities. Most Australians have a broad nasal twang. Expletives are commonly used and most of them are a symbol of affection or familiarity. Words like ‘bloody’ are used every day and not considered a swear word. Aussies are known for saying things as they are. They can sometimes make playful comparisons for purposes of emphasis. For example, someone might say “as straight as a dog’s hind leg,” to mean something is bent.

There are many books that have been written on the Australian vernacular speech such as phrase books and dictionaries. These publications are used to help others understand the slang used in Australia. The Australian aboriginal society dates back 60,000 years and has the longest cultural history in the world. In 1788, when the first fleet of European explorers arrived, there were about 250 Australian languages all believed to have evolved from one language that had about 700 dialects. Out of the 250 languages only 20 are in use today and are commonly spoken and taught in learning institutions.

Other Languages

Australian Creole is one of the most commonly spoken and taught languages in Northern Australia. It has many English words though the meanings are different and the spelling is phonetic. During the European settlement, many extra languages with over 500 dialects were introduced. Most indigenous languages were lost and while most of the speakers died, others reverted to learning to speak any of the other existing indigenous languages including Creole and English. A Creole is a language that develops from the primary language of a community. Australian Creole is a mix of indigenous languages and English. More than 100 indigenous Australian languages, including Creole, are spoken in Australia. Research indicates that Mandarin and Punjabi have also become popular languages in Australia. The popularity of a language is determined by the number of people speaking the language.

There are also the Tasmanian languages whose origins can be traced to Tasmania Island. The original Tasmanians had about six languages. The last record of the Tasmanian languages being used in communication dates back to 1830. The Tasmanians began using English as their official language in 1905.

Language Training Centers

LSI - Brisbane
This school teaches English language from intensive courses to exam preparation classes. They also have a class for senior citizens.
Email: info@lsi.edu
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7443 9873

Australian English Language Center
The Australian English Language Center has a small class size that allows every student to get individual attention from the teachers. The tutors in this school determine the needs of each student before they enroll them in English language classes. A deposit of AUD $60 may be required for books and study materials. This deposit is usually refunded once the study is complete.
Address: 641 Wellington Street,
Email: info@acae.edu.au
Phone: 08 9322 3202

Access Language Center
The Access Language center, located in Mary Street Surry Hills, Sydney, offers full time and part time English courses at beginner, intermediate, and advanced level. Their flexible plan allows students to start classes on any given Monday.
Address: Level 2, 72 Mary Street
Surry Hills, Sydney NSW
2010 Australia
Phone: +61 (2) 9281-6455
Fax: +61 (2) 9281-7455

Use of Subtitles in Broadcasting

All public TV networks in Australia feature captions on programs aired between 6pm and 10:30 pm. In addition, programs that are now being broadcast on a digital channel, but were previously broadcast on an analog channel, are required to have captions. If a program was broadcast on a network’s primary channel with captions, the other Free TV networks are not obligated to broadcast it with captions regardless of the time it is aired.

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

At Bupa we have been helping individuals and families live longer, healthier, happier lives for over 60 years. We are trusted by expats in 190 different countries and have links with healthcare organisations throughout the world. So whether you're moving abroad for a change of career or a change of scene, with our international private health insurance you will always be in safe hands.


Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.