Speaking the language

[Episode 5 | 1968 : Sofia]

Sofia and her friend Mareka are watching Professor Julius Sumner Miller's television science show, Why is it so? Janice arrives and meets Sofia's mother and grandmother. She needs Sofia to translate the conversation and Sofia deliberately tells each party the wrong translation.


The Australian curriculum: History

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The Australian Curriculum: History aims to ensure that students develop: 

  • interest in, and enjoyment of, historical study for lifelong learning and work, including their capacity and willingness to be informed and active citizens 
  • knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the past and the forces that shape societies, including Australian society 
  • understanding and use of historical concepts, such as evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, perspectives, empathy, significance and contestability 
  • capacity to undertake historical inquiry, including skills in the analysis and use of sources, and in explanation and communication.

History activities [4]

Activity 1: Multiculturalism
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Subtheme(s): Multiculturalism

'Australianisation' is often used to describe the way an immigrant assimilates into the Australian way of life. Many immigrants find it difficult to assimilate because the language, values and way of life are very different to what they are used to.


  • Ask students to complete a Y chart on the topic 'Multiculturalism in Australia today'. The focus questions for the Y chart are:
  1. What does multiculturalism look like?
  2. What does multiculturalism sound like?
  3. What does multiculturalism feel like?
  • Ask students to compare and contrast by completing the Y chart activity, using the clip to prompt their responses. They can compare the differences in perspective on multiculturalism between Australia in 1968 and Australia today.


Activity 2: Language barriers
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Subtheme(s): Language and scripting; Multiculturalism; Social order and education

According to the 2006 Australian Government census, the Greek community is the seventh largest ethnic group in Australia. The Greek language is the fourth most common language in Australia (after English, Chinese and Italian). Many students study another language in school or outside school hours. Some students study a language that is the native tongue of their parents.

  • Ask students if they speak a language other than English at home or if they have relatives that speak another language. List these languages. Ask students if they were the first generation in their family born in Australia. If so, they would be classified as 'first generation'. If not, what generation are they?

  • Ask students to create a data chart on languages other than English spoken at home. The chart can be completed electronically or as a poster for display.
  • Ask students to survey other students within the school to gather information about the languages spoken. Create a chart of information gathered about the whole school cohort.
  • Ask students to determine which cultures form the make-up of the school.


Activity 3: Why is it so?
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Subtheme(s): Historical events; Inventions and electronic media

  • Each student should elect to research one scientific or technological event. Ask students to address the following questions in their report:
  1. What was the invention or event?
  2. When did it happen?
  3. Who was involved?
  4. Why was it important to the world?
  5. What awards did it win?
  6. What aspect of this invention is relevant today?
  • Students should also source images to highlight the key aspects of the report.


Activity 4: The cultural divide
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Subtheme(s): Language and scripting; Multiculturalism

When Janice meets Sofia's mother and grandmother, she needs Sofia to translate the conversation. Sofia deliberately tells each party the wrong translation.

  • Ask students to suggest common words and phrases that they would speak almost every day. For example, words and phrases such as:
  1. Hello
  2. Goodbye
  3. How much?
  4. Thank you
  5. Very good
  6. Where do you live?
  7. What is your name?
  8. How old are you?
  9. Where do you go to school?
  10. Can I eat that food?
  • Ask the class to research what the translation of these words and phrases would be in Greek and two other languages. Compare the words and the sounds.

  • Ask students to design a postcard that Sofia would send to Janice from Greece. On one side should be an image of a famous site in Greece, and on the other side a greeting in both Greek and English.


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