Migrants get lessons on Aussie slang

By Liz Mellino

Fair dinkum Aussie slang is being taught to new arrivals in Shepparton through a program at St Paul’s African House.

Phrases like ‘‘catch ya later’’, ‘‘no dramas’’ and ‘‘chuck a sickie’’ may be everyday terms for Australians however this slang can present a barrier for new residents.

To combat this, St Paul’s African House is running a series of Aussie Street Talk sessions designed to help improve people’s Aussie English and help them better understand local food and culture.

‘‘I don’t think anyone has tried this before but we recognised that it’s all very well to learn how to speak basic English, but that doesn’t prepare you for the people you are going to meet in the street and in the workplace,’’ African House volunteer manager Steve Little said.

St Paul’s ran its first session earlier this month and has three more upcoming sessions before finishing the program with a trip to a football match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in July.

The free interactive sessions involve groups of new arrivals sitting alongside an Australian facilitator where they watch video clips, movies, have conversations and learn the basics of being an Australian.

Mr Little said things such as different variations of saying hello, how to shorten words, what to bring to a barbecue and Australian humour were addressed in the sessions.

‘‘They don’t learn these things at English classes, they’ve just got to pick this up. We’ve had decades — when you’re born here you just pick it up over time,’’ he said.

‘‘Studies have shown that for non-English people arriving in Australia one of the best ways of fitting in and integrating is to inject a few Aussie slang words into your speech because most Aussies don’t care where you’ve come from or what religion you are — what they care about is that you’re here to work hard and you’re someone they can communicate with.’’

Participants will also learn about Australia’s first people and hear from previous migrants who have integrated into life in Shepparton, while eating some traditional Aussie cuisine along the way.

African House volunteer Bob Watts said the sessions were open to any new arrivals who were hoping to brush up on their English to have a better understanding of Aussies and in turn ensure they were better understood.

‘‘It’s an opportunity for them to get on a wavelength, it’s not just perfect English, you’ve got to be adaptable.’’

The next Aussie Street Talk session is being held tomorrow at 6.45pm at St Paul’s African House, 54 Poplar Ave, Shepparton. For more information or to book a spot, phone 0431 453 044.