The Australia Early Development Index, a government-backed study of more than 260,000 children in their first year of school, found that 18 per cent spoke a language other than English.
Despite no Arabic
nation making the top 15 countries of birth for Australia
’s children, some 5,565 spoke the language
at home, 11.8 per cent of all multilingual children.
Vietnamese was the second-most prevalent, at 8.4 per cent, followed by Greek, Chinese dialects and Hindi, each spoken by less than 5.0 per cent
England, New Zealand, India and the United States were the top countries of birth after Australia, followed by the Philippines, China, South Africa, South Korea and Sri Lanka.
Aboriginal children made up 4.8 per cent of the student population and one-fifth of them speak a native language in the home – most commonly a creole mixing an indigenous dialect with English.
Fewer than 100 children spoke any single local tongue, the study found.