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Developing a regional Master-Apprentice training network in Australia

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Title: Developing a regional Master-Apprentice training network in Australia
Issue Date: 02 Mar 2013
Description: In March 2012, 36 Indigenous participants representing 31 languages from all Australian states and territories participated in two Master-Apprentice Language Learning Program train-the-trainer workshops. Although the MALLP model has been highly successful particularly with Indigenous communities in North America, it has not yet been firmly established within the Australian context. The sole ongoing Australian Master-Apprentice program has run at Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring Language and Culture Centre in Kununurra, WA since mid-2009. The two train-the-trainer workshops discussed here thus represent the first attempt to introduce the MALLP method widely in Australia and to build a national network of trainers.

The Australian MALLP workshops developed as a collaboration between the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity, Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring Language and Culture Centre, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, and the Koori Centre, University of Sydney. Three trainers from the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival formed the lead training team at both workshops. The 36 participants were carefully chosen for the key roles that they play in supporting Indigenous languages within their communities and professional networks — in Aboriginal language centres, educational programs and Indigenous organisations.

The workshops aimed to provide participants with a broad overview of and practise in the Master-Apprentice goals, principles and activities while also preparing them to train other Master-Apprentice teams in their regions. There was a wide range in linguistic vitality amongst the languages represented at the workshop, ranging from reclamation to revitalisation scenarios and through to relatively strong languages. Particular attention was paid to the adaption of MALLP methods to varying contexts in different parts of Australia. The training thus incorporated aspects of both the Breath of Life and Master-Apprentice methods. Participants were also introduced to the language pod method which is proving useful in situations which lack fluent speakers, and offers a transitional stage towards a more fully-fledged MALLP program.

This paper first reviews the motivation and background to the MALLP workshops and the goals which were established. Highlights of the training program are discussed along with ways of adapting the MALLP method to Australian contexts. We then focus on the realistic steps which will need to be taken in building and training local teams and expanding the MALLP model in Australia. Despite the challenges, some fledgling programs have already been created and we conclude by presenting some emerging outcomes.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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