October, 2016

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Yijarni: True Stories from Gurindji Country – a sad, marvellous historical canon

, Oct 19, 2016

The Wave Hill Walk Off is commemorated widely but what happened to Gurindji people on their own country before the Walk Off is less well known. A new publication, told bilingually in Gurindji and English, shares what Gurindji people want the world to know about what happened. Greg Dickson reviews Yijarni: True Stories from Gurindji Country.
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“I am determined to be tenacious in relation to the use of my language”: Bess Price and breaking the English hegemony in NT Parliament

, Feb 18, 2016

Aboriginal Northern Territory MP Bess Price is fighting to be able to use her first language, Warlpiri, in parliament. She argues that it's only fair given it's her first language and the language of half her constituency. The Parliament's Speaker continues to affirm that English is the language of the Assembly. Greg Dickson explores the debate further:
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Spotlighting Australia’s Languages: Wajarri

, Oct 01, 2015

We Australians don't know much about the languages spoken in our own country - so Fully Sic is here to help! We're featuring a series of posts about languages spoken around the country. Today, Rosie Sitorus tells us about Wajarri.
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Indigenous languages, literacy and the myth of the “unwritten language”

, Sep 10, 2015

Many of us have heard about the Indigenous literacy gap - but probably think it applies only to English. Greg Dickson takes a look at Indigenous literacy from the perspective of Indigenous languages, busts some myths and finds an even bigger "gap".
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Spotlighting Australia’s languages: Anindilyakwa

, Sep 03, 2015

We Australians don't know much about the languages spoken in our own country - so Fully Sic is here to help! Over the coming months, we'll be featuring a series of posts about languages spoken around the country. Today, James Bednall tells us about Anindilyakwa.

“Take our words away”: Hyperbolic fear of Australia’s Indigenous heritage

, Apr 09, 2015

Last month, a parent got hot under the collar over a school's teaching of Australia's National Anthem in an Indigenous language. Linguist Lauren Gawne responds.
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Who will teach our* languages?

, Aug 27, 2014

More and more Australians are embracing the idea that our first languages should be taught in schools. Faced with high levels of language endangerment and loss, everyone's hoping for a quick fix. John Hobson takes a look at what works and what doesn’t. The conclusion: it’s a complex matter. Language teaching requires not only time and hard work but, most of all, well-trained teachers.
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Graffiti in Kriol: what one Ngukurr resident thinks of Scullion’s attendance minions

, Apr 16, 2014

In Ngukurr this week, Greg Dickson discovered that not everyone is impressed by Nigel Scullion's $46 million Remote School Attendance Strategy. Either that or it's just good fun to get out there and write some graffiti in Kriol.
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How cuts to the NT Education Department could widen the gap

, Oct 31, 2013

First, they rejected Gonski because too much funding would go to remote community schools. Now, the NT Education department is cutting positions that are key in supporting Aboriginal students who don't speak English at home. Greg Dickson demonstrates the benefit that such support positions can bring and argues that the NT Government's handling of education could easily cause the much-discussed "gap" to widen rather than narrow.
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Raiders of the Lost Archives

, Sep 02, 2013

Last week, Indigenous languages got some media attention when it was revealed that documents discovered in the archives of the NSW State Library are shedding new light on some little-known languages. Claire Bowern has more on the story and describes how interesting, challenging and worthwhile archival materials can be for efforts to strengthen Aboriginal languages.
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LOTEs in the Election: your guide to linguistically-talented candidates

, Aug 28, 2013

With the election campaign in full-swing, you could be forgiven for thinking all the candidates are monolingual English speakers. Not true. Here's a starter's guide to people on your ballot paper who speak Languages Other Than English (LOTEs). But why didn't you know all this before? Greg Dickson argues it's part of politics race to the bottom to appeal to a dumbed-down notion of middle Australia.
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Creative Australia lends extra support to Indigenous languages, but is it enough?

, Mar 13, 2013

The Federal Government's new Creative Australia policy includes an announcement of nearly $14 million in new funding for Indigenous languages support, over four years. While it's a welcome announcement, Greg Dickson isn't quite jumping up and down about it.
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Putting language documentation in the hands of the speakers

, Feb 19, 2013

Linguist Bruce Birch reports on the recent work of the Minjilang Language Team who are pioneering the use of mobile devices to document Australian languages.
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Federal Government ready to “Recognise” Indigenous languages (but it’s kinda old news)

, Feb 15, 2013

There was a bit of hoo-hah in Parliament House this week when Julia, Tony and co. made a minor song and dance about constitutional recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their languages. Greg Dickson writes that it's good news but actually kinda old news... with shiny branding. He explains the recommendations and the clever work that was done by the expert panel over twelve months ago.

Census data misleading; languages still at risk

, Jan 21, 2013

A report in The Australian claims that the 2011 census showed that the Aboriginal language "crisis" has been overstated, that indigenous languages are not in danger of dying out. Aidan Wilson looks into the data to find out what's going on.
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Maintaining Indigenous languages: revering a distant past or contributing to a better future?

, Nov 01, 2012

Special guest Dr. Bill Fogarty argues that Indigenous language maintenance and education is not about reverence for some distant past for esoteric reasons. Rather it is an important asset that can play a role both in developing a future for Indigenous communities and in benefiting the socio-economic fabric of the Australian Nation.

Our Land, Our Languages and Preserving Our Heritage

, Sep 21, 2012

It's pretty rare that Indigenous languages (IL) get a day in the sun in such a spectacular way. The bread and butter of IL reporting most months is along the lines of "here's a new phone app that's going to save a language." Sorry to rain on anyone's parade, but phone apps don't save languages, people do. Specifically, speakers do: the only way to "save a language" is to make it easier for people to learn and speak it, and that requires actions which are integrated through a community.

First language education is a matter of common sense

, Sep 18, 2012

The Our Land Our Language report unequivocally calls for the reinstatement of bilingual education programs in remote areas, for compulsory English as an Additional Language training in teaching degrees, and for changes to be made to how NAPLAN testing is carried out. But what do these measures mean and how effective will they be in ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote areas get the best education we can provide?
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How not to report on Indigenous education

, Jul 20, 2012

Greg Dickson writes… On Monday I got a phone call out of the blue from a journalist from The Australian. Initially, I felt a bit chuffed being cold-called by a big newspaper. I soon realised however that the journo was asking me about stuff that wasn’t really my area of expertise. She wanted to know […]
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Ngurrju! Manymak! Pupuni! NT drops First Four Hours in English policy

, Jul 11, 2012

Over three years ago, the Northern Territory government introduced a policy mandating English-only lessons for the first four (out of five and a bit) hours of school per day, despite widespread criticism. But as Greg Dickson has discovered, the government may have finally retracted the policy.