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The basics
Australia: Destination Guides

Understanding Australian English

Everyone knows that in Australia people speak English, but do you know why? Do you know what other languages are spoken? We answer these questions and give you some interesting facts and examples of Australian English.

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English is the main language spoken in Australia, but it isn’t the only language spoken in this immense country. To understand why this is so, we need to take a quick look at the country’s history and its population today. We’ll also look at some interesting facts and share some common, fun, Australian English expressions.


What are the origins of Australian English?


As with all other English-speaking countries, the origin of English is connected to colonialism. England took control of countries and people and imposed language, laws, education and culture. 


Settlers from the UK arrived in 1788. At that time crime in city areas had become a real problem, and prisons were full. England had previously sent criminals to the USA, after the war of independence, this was no longer an option, and so they were sent on an eight-month journey by ship to Australia. 


The British settlers came from all over the UK, and so had a range of English accents themselves, which they would have found difficult to understand. Therefore, they had to change their dialects and accents to be understood by other settlers. These changes in the English language would have continued throughout the generations leading to the Australian English that exists today. 


Discover more about culture in Australia


What are the different languages spoken in Australia?


Before the arrival of the settlers in 1788, indigenous people lived in what was later called Australia for over 60,000 years. There are over 250 indigenous languages in Australia, over 800 dialects, and three Torres Strait languages. Sadly, due to government policies and education in the country, over 90 per cent of these languages are now considered endangered. 


Australia also has large immigrant communities putting Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese and Vietnamese in the top five other languages spoken by different generations. 


Read more about applying for a student visa in Australia.


Interesting facts


  1. The Australian accent is similar wherever you are in the country.
  2. Differences in Australian English are subtle and are generally divided into three broad categories – broad, general, and cultivated. In some cases, the accent type is associated with socioeconomic status.
  3. There are Indigenous Australian accents and ethnic Australian accents. 
  4. Australian English reflects the relaxed nature of Australian people and life in the country.
  5. There are a lot of vowel sounds (a,e, i,o,u) in Australian English. 
  6. Australians don’t pronounce the ‘r’ at the end of words. For example, car is pronounced caa (longer vowel sound).
  7. Don’t pronounce the ‘g’ at the end of words. For example, dancin’, walkin, eatin.


Confused about the Australian accent? You can watch the video below to get a better sense of how it developed:


Australian words and expressions


Here are some words and expressions you’re very likely to hear in Australia:



Australian English

















How are you?

How are you goin?


If you’d like to practise listening to the Australian English accent here are some famous Australians to listen to – Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Rebel Wilson, and Hugh Jackman.


If you’re interested in studying in Australia you can find out more about the best universities in Australia, why to study there, and how to apply to study in Australia


Study in Australia


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