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Video Clip Synopsis:
Australia needs new migrants to populate the country and build a more prosperous nation. English lessons are available everywhere, including through correspondence and radio courses.

1min 54sec

A Land of Milk and Honey and English Lessons is an excerpt from the film Migrants Learn to Be Australian Citizens (3 mins), a segment from the series Australian Diary, produced in 1951.

Migrants Learn to Be Australian Citizens: A short film designed to tell Australians how new migrants are adapting to life in Australia, with a particular emphasis on English language education and the importance of migrant labour to the ongoing development of the nation.

Australian Diary: Filmed between 1947 and 1970, the Australian Diary series records how Australians have lived, worked and played over the years. Each of these short black-and-white films provides a snapshot of Australian life at the time, from rural areas and small towns to capital cities. Informative, entertaining and often amusing, the subjects range from serious to quirky and cover everything from innovations in agriculture, industry and science to sport, art, education, fashion, flora and fauna. There are a total of 136 diaries with 440 individual stories, providing a picture of a proud, diverse, idiosyncratic and constantly changing nation.

Australian Diary is a National Film Board Production. Produced by the Department of the Interior.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: English
Year: 11-12
Theme: Immigration & Work

Key Concepts

Language; Multiculturalism; Assimilation; ‘New Australian’

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:English course framework (11-12) — responding critically and analytically to texts
NSW:English Stage 6: Close study of text, Texts and society
NT:English Stage 1 Texts and contexts
Qld:English senior syllabus: Texts in their contexts; textual features; Constructedness of texts
SA:English Stage 1 Texts and contexts
Tas:Senior Secondary English: Ideas and issues strand; Texts and contexts strand; Applications strand
Vic:English Language: Unit 3 — Language in society; Unit 4 — Language in use
WA:English Year 11 — Print texts (non fiction), Non-print texts
English Year 12 — Print texts (non-fiction), Non-print texts

Context / Background Information

After World War 2 the Australian Government brought a number of Europeans displaced by the war, known as DP’s, to Australia. This was followed by a massive immigration scheme which brought more southern, eastern and western Europeans to Australia. Most of the European migrants could not speak English.

These immigrants were almost a social revolution in Australia, as most previous mass immigration had been focused on British people. This immigration would have a major impact on the immigrants’ lives, but also on Australia. How would the existing Australian population react to these foreign newcomers, these ‘new Australians’?

Discussion Pointers

  1. Describe what is shown in the film.
  2. What is the message of the film?
  3. Does the film show any glimpses of social tensions or potential problems with the new immigration scheme? Give specific examples.
  4. Who is the audience for the film? How do you now?
  5. Why would such a film be needed at this time for this audience?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. The film suggests that learning the language of the new society is a responsibility of a migrant. Do you agree? What other responsibilities does a migrant have?
  2. There have been two broad philosophies about immigration in Australia since 1945. One is based on the idea of assimilation, that it is the obligation of the migrant to meld into the new society as quickly as possible. The other is based on multiculturalism, the idea that it is desirable that the ethnic culture, language and traditions of the migrants should be preserved and even encouraged within the new society. Prepare a case for one of these viewpoints. Then after each has been presented, decide which you support, or, if you support neither fully, what your view is of the rights and responsibilities that the new migrant has towards the new culture, and the old.
  3. Some people argue today that Australia should have a preamble to its Constitution that suits the aspirations and experiences of a modern, multicultural society — and very different from the largely British culture that informed the 1901 Constitution. Do you agree that a modern preamble is needed?
  4. Regardless of your personal belief above, imagine that you have been commissioned to create a preamble. What will you put in it? You can find some examples to help you (not all of them serious!) at

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 7-8, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10, English Year 11-12