Culture & Lifestyle

Australian Culture and Lifestyle resources

One of the best ways to explore and access this is to involve real Australians. This may mean excursions – even just within walking distance from your classroom –  but there are also other ways to bring ‘real Australians’ into the classroom. Ideas, with related topic content, are listed below:

Australian Cultural Dictionary

  • This dictionary is designed for people who are living, or who are going to live, in Australia. We hope it will be particularly useful for international students.

Aboriginal culture


Australia and the world

  • Compare living conditions between countries – great for work on comparisons at various levels or just seeing how other countries compare to Australia.

Australian culture

  • Campus survey: Students love interviewing Australians about culture, even at low levels. Students can decide on the area(s) of culture, e.g., sport, transport, parenting, finding a spouse(!)
  • Interviews: “Interview an Aussie Day”. Great for students to see how ‘diverse’ Aussie are.
  • Videoconferencing: Connect with other Australian classes via video conferencing NB: Vivian (@vivimat78) works in a high school. We thought her classes might be interested in talking to adult EFL classes as part of a cultural exchange project, where they can interview each other on their knowledge/experiences. This could be a fantastic opportunity, so please think about contacting Vivian if this is something you would like to explore.
  • Articles: Of course you can see the authentic articles on the News & Articles page, but MaryGlasgowMags, who create magazines for schools have a page of Australia-related texts here. You get 5 free downloads, so why not?!
  • They’re a Weird Mob (1957 book, 1966 film) – A bit dated now, but the story’s depiction of the struggles of a migrant who has learnt ‘proper’ English to understand Australian English (as well as understand Australian culture) still rings true. [The link here is to Australian Screen website which has 3 clips from the film, with accompanying transcript & teacher notes.]
  • Language (see also the Expressions and Idioms page, and the Pronunciation page) eg: Australia Day McDonald’s ad: This one could be good with advanced learners, exposure to accent, rhyme & of course some common slang – can also look at common Aussie -o words (ambo, sambo, arvo, relo etc.) The ad text is: “Here’s Gazza the ambo who’s pulled an all-nighter./Nan and mum with the ankle biter./Stevo from Paddo on a break from a reno,/havin’ a chinwag with the visiting relos./Back from the Murray are Hoddy ‘n’ Binny,/with pav McFlurries ‘n’ towin’ a tinnie./Porko ‘n’ Simmo in a ute that’s chockers./Best behaviour fellas: these two are coppers./Yep, there’s Jimbos ‘n’ Bennos ‘n’ Rachs ‘n’ Ackers./But there’s only one place on earth where you can get Macca’s.”
  • Latest census statistics as an interesting video infographic with comprehension and discussion questions: Australia Street The voiceover is pretty quick so best for higher levels. 
  • Australia Plus
    “Produced by the ABC, shares stories that reveal the culture, life and society of Australia to inform, inspire and include the diverse audiences of Australia and our region.”

Beach safety & beach culture

  • Swimming is a cultural experience for many students; need to do early on; awareness can save lives. Part of a focus on beach safety can involve getting local life savers to come in to the college (see AMES’ Beach Safety unit of work below)
  • AMEP Beach Safety Modules  All modules and lesson plans in this site are linked to Google docs and Google Slides, thereby allowing teachers to make a copy of the materials so they can be adapted to their particular audience. Click on the pages in the top right to access the modules themselves, and learn about the suggested tech tools you can use with these lessons. (NB: CSWEI = beginner level, CSWEII & III = pre intermediate – intermediate level). All docs are set to “anyone with the link can view”. You need to go file – make a copy and then you can do what you like with the resource.
  • Beach Safety Workbook – 4 units of work developed by AMES NSW – free downloadable workbook and audio!
  • A series of multilingual videos (including English) that give you Surf Life Saving’s top five tips for visiting an Australian beach.
  • Surf Lifesaving’s Beachsafe app
  • Don’t get sucked in by the rip this summer – article from The Conversation, Jan 2014
  • Beach safety – Tutor Resources for the AMEP (Post-beginner)
  • Beach Culture activities from The Smith Family Home Tutor Scheme
  • Drowning Danger – ABC Behind the News 10/03/2009
  • Staying water-safe in Australia – SBS Settlement Guide
  • The Sea, in the sea, on the sea, at the seaside by Hazel Davidson and Dorothy Court (Sugarbag on Damper, 2017)
    For lower levels. Includes: reading book and workbook and Audio CD
    Interview with the author: The Sea, The Sea! A new Australian ESOL resource by Clare Harris on her Englishy Things blog
  • Useful info and videos including how to recognise rip currents in this edition of Insider Guides for international students

Christmas in Australia



  • We wish you a ripper Christmas by Bucko And Champs (song on YouTube)
    – Shared by Mignon Butler: “For a fun Aussie Xmas song to teach your S’s, ‘We wish you a ripper Christmas ‘ is at the top of my list”
  • Aussie Jingle Bells by Bucko And Champs (song on YouTube)
    – Shared by Mignon Butler: “‘Aussie Jingle Bells’ by the same musicians is a hoot as well”
    Aussie Jingle Bells – lesson plan from James Heath on his ELTideas blog. Includes students’ book and teachers’ notes
    Level: Pre-intermediate plus
    Skills: Listening, Vocabulary
    Topic area: Christmas in Australia
    Time:30-45 mins
    Number of students: 2 +
  • White Wine In The Sun by Tim Minchin (song on YouTube)
    – Shared by Rachael Adams: “Obviously for a particular group, but this brings back so many great Christmas memories. As for grammar, present tense for describing preferences and some future continuous.”
  • Summer Wonderland (song/video from Air New Zealand, featuring Ronan Keating)
    “Finally a festive tune we can get behind here in the Southern Hemisphere, where the pavs are a-plenty, the sun’s a-shining and the bros are a-glistening.”
    A downloadable mp3 is available, also lyrics and sheet music.
    – Shared by Nicki Blake: “Compare and contrast Northern Hemisphere Christmas with Southern Hemisphere Christmas. Perhaps get students to write their own lyrics?”
  • Australia’s Christmas Day by The Borderers (song on YouTube) Lyrics PDF
    Lovely song about celebrating Christmas in Australia, far away from family, the essence of giving, and the one day we have the chance to unite.
    – Shared by @cioccas
  • Christmas in Australia by Tom, Ellen and the Spice time Band (song on YouTube)
    Tom, Ellen and the Spice time Band celebrating Christmas in Australia. A new version of ‘Jingle Bells’ sung by some visitors from the UK judging by the accents. Check the lyrics before playing in class.

Coins & Banknotes

  • Australian coins – no-prep warmer of 5-15 mins.
  • There’s a unit in Read It Write It Intermediate called ‘On The Money’, with reading texts of stories about the people who feature on Aus$ and NZ$ notes. (recommended by Lesley Cioccarelli)
  • In Susan Boyer’s People in Australia’s Past, the unit on Edith Cowan – she is on the $50 note – has some activities around the Australian banknotes.  Others from banknotes with units in the book are: David Unaipon, Mary Reiby, John Flynn and Nellie Melba (recommended by Lesley Cioccarelli)
  • Remembering David Unaipon: the man on the fifty dollar note (SBS, 2016) (contributed by Jakki Cashman)
  • Who’s on the Money by Chris Miles. “Hoping it will be updated with the new notes.” (recommended by Deb Palmer)
  • The people on Australia’s banknotes (Australian Geographic, 2016)
  • Banknotes – comprehensive ‘microsite’ from the Reserve Bank of Australia which  includes:
    • People on the Banknotes – short biographies
    • Banknote Features – click on circular icons under the banknote image to find descriptions of each individual element of each banknote
    • Game and resources for teachers
  • Royal Australian Mint Learning pages include fact sheets, and other resources for teachers and students on Australian coins
  • “My students have always found this topic fascinating. One told me the following week [after doing the unit from Read It, Write It] that she’d told a customer at her shop about the person on the note when she gave them change! I have also asked them to research the banknotes from their own country, or others on Australian notes not in the unit and present to the class, and/or write about them.” (from Lesley Cioccarelli)
  • “My students love this topic too. I bring in coins & notes leftover from travels and the class brings in notes from their own countries if they have them and we describe them…heaps to talk about – describing the buildings, people, colours, birds, animals shapes of coins, sizes, comparatives. Everyone loves looking at money from other countries, and there’s so much Australian culture that can be covered by springboarding from what’s on our money. We get to read / watch clips from Man from Snowy River, sing Waltzing Matilda….it’s a great topic!” (from Deb Palmer)

Cross-cultural communication

  • Cross-cultural communication videos
  • These videos were created by students in the Cross-cultural communication unit (LNGS 2617) offered by the Department of Linguistics, University of Sydney, under the supervision of Dr. Ahmar Mahboob.  These videos can serve as a great resource for class activities and discussions as well as for professional training (across a range of fields).
    • Adjusting to Australian Uni Life: Tips for International and Local Students
    • International Students vs Australian Slang
    • The Integrated Workplace: Australia and India Combined
    • The Cross Cultural Issues Faced by Sydney Taxi Drivers
    • JET Programme Problems

Drop Bears

  • These might be useful to demonstrate how language and genre is used to present fictitious information as fact, especially for EAP and work on digital literacy
    • Drop bears target tourists, study says (Australian Geographic, 1 April  2013)
      ‘Drop bears are less likely to attack people with Australian accents, according to experts at the University of Tasmania”
    • Animal Species:Drop Bear (Australian Museum)
      “The Drop Bear, Thylarctos plummetus, is a large, arboreal, predatory marsupial related to the Koala.”
    • Drop bear (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
  • For more ideas to expand on this for a lesson, see Nicky Hockly’s digital literacy lesson based on a similar idea: Digital literacies 2: The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus


  • Cultural ideas: Cook, bring in, share, an ‘International Food Day’ at your school
  • Language focus: imperatives, sequencing, writing reviews, comparison
  • Study skills: research, presentations
  • Useful sites: All Down Under – food section

Magpie awareness

Melbourne Cup


Remembrance Day

Sounds of Australia from NFSA

  • A mix of songs, speeches and many other sounds, the Sounds of Australia (formerly known as the National Registry of Recorded Sound) is the NFSA’s selection of sound recordings with cultural, historical and aesthetic significance and relevance, which inform or reflect life in Australia. Each year, the Australian public nominates new sounds to be added with final selections determined by a panel of industry experts.

Tax and Superannuation

Tourist attractions 



1 thought on “Culture & Lifestyle

  1. Pingback: Beach Safety: the ESOL resource list - Clare HarrisClare Harris

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