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SBS news - Tuesday January 23, 2007 - is likely to have an item on NgaawaGaray.

NgaawaGaray was a summer school in Gumbaynggirr and Gamilaraay - two New South Wales languages. [Ngaawa and Garay are the words for ‘language’ in Gumbaynggirr and Gamilaraay]. It was sponsored and organised by Muurrbay and Many Rivers language centres from Nambucca and held at the Koori Centre at the University of Sydney on January 15 - 19. There were 16 students in the Gumbaynggirr course and 11 in Gamilaraay. The Gamilaraay course consisted of part of the ‘Gamilaraay 101’ - taught as ‘Guwaalmiya Gamilaraay’ - a first year subject at University of Sydney, and also taught in TAFE. The Gumbaynggirr course was adapted from the regular course run each year at Muurrbay.

I was the senior teacher for Gamilaraay, with Des Crump and John Brown co-teaching. I found the experience a very rich one - one of teaching not just a subject but something that touched people personally. The students came from a range of backgrounds, though many of them are involved in education: schools, universities, community projects and Board of Studies. Their reaction was very enthusiastic, as seen is the extracts below from evaluations:

‘The summer school was so relevant to my career as a teacher, to allow me to teach my language and to strengthen the identity, spirituality and confidence in my Aboriginal students and family.’

‘Learning the language has been very tiring and makes you use your mouth and brain heaps. Organisation and teaching were great.’

‘The Summer school is fantastic, and I hope this is the first of many. I learnt more than I thought possible. The Koori Centre and staff were wonderful - it was a really welcoming place. Thank you!’

‘extremely inspiring - challenging, personally and mentally; great!’

In the near future we will be reviewing the course and considering the possible of a repeat or even an expanded NgaawaGaray next year.

John Giacon


Congratulations John, that's great! It's really excellent to hear when programs work well. Could you post a bit about your teaching methods and maybe a little about the background of the students in the class? E.g. was this a largely "oral" course, or did you make a lot of use of the Gamilaraay dictionary? What sort of homework did you give the students?

Report on the Yuwaalaraay Program at St Joseph's Walgett.

In 2005 Dr Paddy Cavanagh of Australian Catholic University was
commissioned by the Catholic Schools Office, Armidale, to write a
report on the Yuwaalaraay Language Program at St Joseph's Walgett. A
copy of the report is available at http://www.arm.catholic.edu.au/pdf/

Gamilaraay Program
The SBS news item was delayed by the political events of the day.

Claire - the students included 5 who have completed or nearly completecd their teaching degree, a recent high school graduate, PhD student, Indigenous officer with Board of studies, a community consultant, and others. 8 Indigenous and 3 non-Indigenous.

The teaching combined oral methods and written material - in the early classes we use lots of cards, and expresions like 'this is a ..' 'what is this?' 'Is it a ..' ; students are given written wordlists; As lessons progress and include the various major case suffixes, verb classes and simple tenses written material is used to show the paradigms. We also use songs.

Homework has 2 components - the speaking component where students practice words and sentences; and a creative compenent where they develop short spoken presentations - maybe 10 words for the early ones. The written component consists of translation to and from Gamilaraay, and the creation of original sentences.

Cool, thanks John!

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