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Fostering revitalisation through the teaching and learning small languages in schools in NSW

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Title: Fostering revitalisation through the teaching and learning small languages in schools in NSW
Authors: Poetsch, Susan
Lowe, Kevin
Issue Date: 14 Mar 2009
Description: Aboriginal languages in the state of New South Wales (NSW), like many others on the south-east coast of Australia, have born the brunt of invasion and colonisation, and rapidly lost full inter-generational transmission of language. Hence current revival efforts for many languages in NSW rely on a combination of the cultural and linguistic knowledge that has been held and remembered by Aboriginal communities, and the reconstruction and analysis of historical and archival documentation. According to the 2006 Australian Bureau of Statistics census, the Aboriginal population of NSW is 148,178 (2.2% of the state’s population). And, while NSW consists of approximately 10% of the total land area of Australia, there are 70 Aboriginal languages in the state. By such measures, these are small languages. However, this has not dampened community efforts to bring back and strengthen languages and to maintain linguistic diversity and identity. This presentation provides and overview of relationships between community language reclamation efforts and the NSW Aboriginal Languages K – 10 Syllabus (Board of Studies NSW 2003). School programs developed from the syllabus are taught by Aboriginal community members who are re-learning and re-connecting with their languages. The programs are supported by resources from government and non-government school systems and curriculum support agencies. The syllabus aims to support community aspirations for language revival, firstly for languages to be heard and spoken again. As such, school programs include opportunities for students to use language. The syllabus assumes a second-language learning environment and encourages communicative language teaching pedagogy. Secondly, reflecting community aspirations for school programs, the syllabus includes learning outcomes reflecting the interdependence of language and culture. Through the third broad objective of the syllabus, students develop skills in “Making Linguistic Connections” for the language they are studying and its relationship to other Aboriginal languages. Since the syllabus was released in 2003, the Board of Studies NSW has been working with particular schools, communities and languages to develop local programs and foster positive school-community partnerships. Implementation of the syllabus has had impacts beyond the school programs. It has strategically fostered small-scale, community-based projects and provided a focus for language revival activities in local communities. This presentation describes observations of a number of locations, illustrating how the school programs both support and are supported community efforts for the rebuilding and strengthening of their languages.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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