"Many Papua New Guineans are trilingual: we have our own vernacular, English and Tok Pisin. I grew up speaking the three languages side by side.
Tok Pisin is a bridge between all the different cultures, tribes and clans in PNG. For people who want to have an association with the Pacific particularly through work, Tok Pisin is a window to expanding their knowledge of the society.
I started teaching Tok Pisin in 2002 with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I also taught New Zealand diplomats as well as journalists and other federal government officials. I keep in touch with many of my past students. They tell me about how they are using the language and how much they enjoy working in PNG.
It’s always daunting for anyone who wants to learn a new language. Tok Pisin is actually about 80 to 85 percent English. It also has influences from German and the Tolai language. People say it’s an ‘easy’ language to learn because many English speakers pick it up quite quickly.
It’s also an interesting language to learn because it’s evolving all the time and hasn’t been standardised, which allows it to reflect the different ways Tok Pisin is developing in different provinces."