Question: Is it wrong for two educators to speak their own language to each other in the room?
Let’s take a moment to reflect. If a child speaks their native language with another educator or child, do you stop them?
Think about all the benefits this situation presents:
- A sense of identity and belonging
- Observers (other children) experiencing Australia’s rich cultural diversity
- An opportunity to foster connection and relationships
Isn’t this something we want for our teams too? What a beautiful environment to create.
Other than the points above, employees speaking their native language can create efficiencies – there is nothing wrong with having a variety of ways to communicate. What’s important to reflect on is time and place.
When speaking another language in the workplace, employees should be conscious of their surroundings and/or the situation. It’s important that employees ask themselves if they are excluding children or other team members by speaking another language.
Some people may worry about what is being said when they don’t understand the language. Reflect on your workplace culture and make sure your whole team understands the benefits of multilingualism in the workplace – maybe it’s time to revisit or create your workplace guiding principles.
Finally, under the Racial Discrimination Act, treating someone differently because of the language they speak may be against the law in some circumstances (humanrights. gov.au). Remember, embedding diversity, culture and inclusion is for your whole service, not just the children.
Services Manager, Community Child Care Association