Incorporating-Indigenous-language-perspectives-by-Jaky-Troy

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					    Incorporating Indigenous
language perspectives in the new
      Australian curriculum
             Presentation to



             By Dr Jaky Troy
     Education, University of Canberra

        18 September 2010, 9.30-12.30
         National Museum of Australia
How can we make a difference for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
students? By...




            http://www.reconciliationsa.org.au/learn%20map.html
         Languages and the National
             Curriculum ACARA
• I am co-writing the ‘National Languages Curriculum Shape
  Paper’ for the Australian Curriculum and Assessment
  Reporting Authority (ACARA).

• It includes a central focus on inclusion of Australian
  languages, ie Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  languages in the curriculum. Australian languages are
  understood in the document as including contact
  languages, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
  Englishes.

• ACARA will develop a national framework for teaching
  Australian languages from this paper.
Shape of the Australian curriculum: languages

‘The development of the initial advice paper for Languages has
commenced. This paper provides advice on curriculum design and
will be the subject of consultation at a national forum to be held in
August. The initial advice will inform the Shape of the Australian
Curriculum: Languages that, following a broad-based consultation,
will be used to guide curriculum writers in the languages learning
area.

Associate Professor Angela Scarino was appointed as lead writer to
complete this work. Dr Jakelin Troy has been recently appointed to
assist her by writing the sections relating to Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander Languages. Dr Troy holds the position of Assistant
Professor, Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education, University of
Canberra. Associate Professor Angela Scarino and Dr Jakelin Troy
will draft the initial advice with the support of an advisory group.’
http://www.acara.edu.au/acara_update_30032010.html
                       cross curriculum perspectives

     In developing the Australian curriculum, ACARA has identified three cross-
     curriculum perspectives which are to be represented in the learning areas in ways
     that are appropriate to that area. These perspectives are (as outlined in The
     Shape of the Australian Curriculum p. 13):

1.    Indigenous perspectives, which will be written into the national curriculum to
      ensure that all young Australians have the opportunity to learn about,
      acknowledge and respect the history and culture of Aboriginal people and Torres
      Strait Islanders
2.    a commitment to sustainable patterns of living which will be reflected in
      curriculum documents
3.    skills, knowledge and understandings related to Asia and Australia’s engagement
      with Asia.

     The curriculum documents will be explicit on how the perspectives are to be dealt
     with in each learning area and how links can be made between learning areas.
Language is an essential part of being Aboriginal

 On the Dharug language website
 http://www.dharug.dalang.com.au
 created by Richard Green,
 traditional owner of the language,
 you can hear Aboriginal people in
 Redfern talking passionately about
 the critical importance of language
 to them as Aboriginal people.
What are the Indigenous languages of Australia?
                     Ecology of the languages
•   Linguists estimate that there are about 250 Australian languages and many more
    dialects of these languages

•   Of these there are now a small number, maybe even less than 30, which are still
    used as the first languages of everyday communication for their communities or
    ‘language owners’. Most of these languages are in the northern territory, South
    Australia, north western Australia, north Queensland and the Torres Straits.

•   However, all over Australia the owners of the other languages are working to
    revitalise their languages and reclaim them as languages of everyday
    communication.

•   Languages that seemed to have no speakers only a few years ago now have active
    speaker/revitaliser communities.

•   For example, when I was researching Dharug, in the 1980s, that language seemed
    to be completely moribund. Now it has its own website that you saw above
    (actually 2 websites because the historical documents for the language are also
    online see http://williamdawes.org/), schools programs, you can download the
    language onto your phone and Richard Green and others regularly give public
    addresses in the language (and this is just a quick survey of its recent ecology)
  The ‘other’ Indigenous languages of Australia:
                ‘deadly lingo, unna’

• Often put down, even by their own speakers, as being inferior to
  the ‘vernacular’ languages the ‘contact languages’ are the ‘other’
  Indigenous languages of Australia.

• These languages are the pidgins, creoles and Aboriginal Englishes
  that developed first in the colonial period of Australia history and
  continued to develop into the first or part of the repertoire of first
  languages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

• Far from being ‘inferior’ languages these are dynamic and exciting
  communicative responses to the mix of languages and peoples that
  have made Australia the culturally diverse and linguistically rich
  environment in which we now live.
                                              Pidgin
•   Pidgins are languages that develop when there is a population of people speaking between
    them 3 or more ‘mother tongues’ but not sharing any in common and who are unexpectedly
    ‘thrown together’. Typically this happens in, for example, an early colonial or a trading
    situation.

•   At first people respond with idiosyncratic linguistic responses such as speaking in unstable
    jargon.

•   However, when a jargon begins to stabilise and regular grammatical features and vocabulary
    are distinguishable this is the beginning ‘pidginisation’ and a new language.

•   For my doctoral thesis I investigated the development of the first pidgin language in the
    Pacific which had its inception in Sydney, the first European (British) colony in the Pacific. A
    pidgin language appears to have developed very quickly, within the first decade of the colony.
    The mix was, at least, English, Irish and Australian languages.

•   This first pidgin in Australia, indeed the Pacific, I called ‘NSW Pidgin’.

•   NSW Pidgin appears to be the base for all other Australian pidgins and possibly all other
    Pacific pidgins.

•   It is also the basis for all Australian creole languages and Aboriginal Englishes.
                                     Creole
• When children grow up speaking a pidgin as their first or one of their first
  languages and it becomes a ‘mother tongue’ the pidgin then ‘creolises’.

• The word ‘creole’ was adapted by linguists from the same word which was
  coined to refer to people of French origin born in colonial French
  countries. These ‘creoles’ are French but with local adaptations.

• As successive generations grow up speaking a creolising pidgin the
  communicative repertoire and complexity of the language expands. It
  becomes a ‘natural’ language in the sense that all languages with long
  linguistic history are complex and able to be used for all communicative
  purposes.

• In Australia it is unlikely that any ‘contact languages’ are still ‘pidgins’, all
  the pidgins have creolised. Their names reflect this fact, so we have, for
  example, ‘Kriol’ of the Northern Territory and ‘Broken’ or ‘Torres Strait
  Creole’.
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Englishes
•   Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Englishes are usually described as varying
    from ‘heavy’ to ‘light’.

•   The ‘heaviest’ forms are so far removed from Standard Australian English (SAE)
    that they might be unintelligible to an English speaker, calling into question their
    status as dialects or varieties of English.

•   The ‘lightest’ forms are so close to SAE that they call into question what is it about
    them that sets them apart.

•   A recent study of Aboriginal Englishes in Canberra preschools found that children
    were not operating in an obviously Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander variety of
    English. However, they were affected by the lack of program content specific to
    their cultural background. So children might sound like any other preschool child
    but what they are thinking and talking about is different and is based on their own
    cultural background. (University of New England’s Dr Liz Ellis led the research –
    ACTAE Review and research the impact of Aboriginal English (or Torres Strait
    Creole) on learning outcomes for Indigenous children in ACT preschools and
    preschool programs. Funded by the ACT Department of Education and Training.
    http://www.une.edu.au/staff/eellis4.php)
 Engaging Aboriginal children with language they
          understand and use everyday
      Yirra and her deadly dog, Demon by Anita Heiss and the students of La
      Perouse Public School (2007, Sydney: Allen and Unwin) is of the best books I
      have seen lately that uses ‘lingo’.




Dr Anita Heiss is a member of the Wiradjuri
nation of central NSW and is a high profile author,                                    Kids at La Perouse Public School
poet, social commentator and cultural activist.       http://www.laperouse-p.schools.nsw.edu.au/sws/view/36302.node
                  Language as cultural expression
•   Even more importantly, in this book Anita uses language and cultural context as a basis for engaging
    Aboriginal children with reading, as a springboard for their own writing and as a great starting point
    for discussion and exploring their own communities.

•   This book could be read by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children anywhere in Australia and it
    would resonate with them on many counts – for its connections between people, between people
    and ‘country’, the style of the language, the pace of life and the cultural knowledge that is
    continuously and easily being passed between adults and children.

    ‘It’s a quick walk across the Mission to her own home in Goolagong Place. As she walks, Yirra thinks
    about the stories her grandparents have told her about how Koories were forced to live on the
    Mission in the old days because the government said so. Now the Mish is home and they wouldn’t
    live anywhere else – its so close to the beach and all their friends.’ (Heiss et al 2007:14) People
    and country what else do we need?!

•   For us as educators the school gets good press too, which is always positive in building student,
    teacher and school relationships.

    “Yirra wakes up on Thursday and springs out of bed...its the day of her class excursion to Botany Bay
    National Park. Yirra’s in such a rush to get to school she almost forgets her cap and she doesn’t
    even stop to look for her missing iPod. ...When the old bus finally pulls in to Botany Bay, Rodney, an
    Aboriginal Discovery Ranger and David the Sites Officer from the local Aboriginal Land Council are
    waiting for them. They show them heaps of important cultural sites. The kids get pretty excited
    when Rodney and David show them where the local Koories used to sharpen their axes. The boys
    all jostle each other to get a good view of the axe-grinding grooves. Yirra’s more interested in the
    middins. ...’How was the excursion, Yirra?’ ‘Too deadly, we had a great time.’” (pp61-62)
      Aboriginal English features of the text
•   The text is largely in standard English but throughout the book the characters use typically
    Aboriginal English address forms such as ‘Aunty’ and ‘Uncle’, ‘Nan’ and ‘Pop’ as extended
    respect terms. ‘Uncle Laddie throws the boomerang... The crowd gathered around the stall
    clap at Uncle Laddie’s throwing style and one of the local Elders, Aunty Beryl, says, ‘He
    throws it just like World Champion Boomerang Thrower Uncle Joe Timbery used to.’ (Heiss et
    all 2007:23)

•   We all live in ‘mobs’ and things are grouped in ‘mobs’, “’Our mob originally came from Wreck
    Bay, down the south coast near Jervis Bay,’ Pop Eddy tells the class.” (p32)

•   Anything that is of value and loved is ‘deadly’ and we are all ‘fellas’. So Yirra and her friends
    exchange the following: - “‘I’m staying at Grandma Trish’s tonight, you fellas wanna stay too?’
    Yirra asks... ‘Is she making her deadly chocolate-chip cookies? They’re the best.’ Mary looks
    at Yirra and they both say ‘Mmmmmmm’ at the same time and then laugh.” (pp11-12)

•   The names in the book are all typically Aboriginal – typical now. So the kids are ‘Yirra, Jarrod,
    and Kilarlia...’ etc (p41) and Yirra’s name means ‘sun’.

•   At the end of the book Anita kindly includes a glossary with further insight into Lingo and
    cultural terms.
  Strategies for including contact
languages into teaching programs
                Neil Harrison’s ‘Teaching
                and learning in Indigenous
                education’ (2010,
                Melbourne: Oxford
                University Press) is full of
                wisdom on all aspects of
                education for and about
                Aboriginal and Torres Strait
                Islander peoples.
              Wisdom from Neil Harrison
•   ‘Aboriginal English is the language spoken at home by many Aboriginal students. It is also the
    first language for most Aboriginal people in Australia (Eades 2004). Aboriginal English is not
    just a way of talking among Aboriginal people; it is a way of thinking and behaving.
    Aboriginal English helps Aboriginal people to pass on their culture from adult to child. The
    words carry the culture. The dialect is often used by its speakers as a way of maintaining a
    group identity. Speaking Aboriginal English brings like-minded people together, but it also
    excludes others.’ (Harrison, 2010:85)

•   I agree with Harrison that there are many benefits in learning two dialects together, and it is
    well demonstrated that learning two languages together is an advantage for life for all
    students. So learning a creole or a dialect of and Indigenous English and SAE can only benefit
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their fellow students.

•   Harrison quotes Jeff Siegel (a pidgin-creolist I have known throughout my career and partner
    of Diana Eades who is famous for her work on Aboriginal Englishes is writing ‘that when
    students learn two dialects together, they are in a position to examine the patterns of
    speech, rules of grammar, vocabulary, sounds, and tonal features of their own dialect and
    observe how they differ from those of the second dialect (or the dialect of other students). A
    discussion of these differences can allow students to separate the two dialects, rather than
    confuse them because the dialects are perceived to be similar. Students’ first dialects would
    provide them with a metalanguage, a way of talking about and analysing standard English).
    This would help students to reduce the interference from Aboriginal English in the acquisition
    of Standard English, rather than increase the interference, as is sometimes feared.’ (p92)
 Recognise and teach Aboriginal and Torres
    Strait Islander Englishes and creoles
• Harrison works through ‘four strategies for incorporating Aboriginal
  English into teaching programs’ (see pp92-96).

• My personal preference is for the bold and inclusive fourth strategy that
  advocates for schools recognising Aboriginal English through the whole
  school in all contexts and teaching the differences between Aboriginal
  English dialects and SAE to all students.

• This strategy bestows a dignity and value to the English dialects used by
  Aboriginal students and mitigates against the endless deficit models
  applied to so many aspects of Aboriginal students’ performance at school.

• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Englishes and creoles are not deficit
  dialects or languages they are rich communicative systems that if treated
  as such within the school context can assist your students to develop
  proficiency in spoken and written SAE.