There’s plenty of other countries that have two or more official languages. Two that immediately spring to mind are Canada & Wales.
So do they encourage librarians to be bilingual? Do they make it compulsory for librarians- in-training to be bilingual? Or is it commonplace to just “encourage” bilingualism?
Why can’t we just put a stick in the sand here in New Zealand and say, right, in five years time, anyone who wants to work as a [teacher, librarian, social worker] or in the [medical, government, tourism] industry must be bilingual? Get started now. Five years notice. Go.
Perhaps I’m too idealistic about this.
Yes I know that learning another language is hard.
Yes I know that not everyone wants to learn English, Te Reo or NZSL.
Yes I know that we are all too [busy/tired/overworked].
Well that’s too bad. If we are doing [insert various job titles] for future generations, then it isn’t really about us is it?
Our future customers & communities & employers & employees deserve better.
Commit to it. Learn it. Use it. Show your community that you give a damn. Show them it can be done.
Be that change you want to see in the world. It might sometimes feel like an overused cliché, but until we actually show others how and why it can be done, then how can we expect it to be any different?
So let’s just draw a line in the sand – do you want to work in the GLAM sector in New Zealand? Then get yourself at least one official language fluently, another one beyond the absolute basics, and if you added in another language (official or not), then that is a total bonus.
So my mission is to find out this month whether any other countries make it compulsory. And then turn the spotlight on whether we can make it happen here in New Zealand.