« More opinions on the loss of Indigenous languages | Blog home | Lewis O'Brien's biography »

business learning training articles new learning business training opportunities finance learning training deposit money learning making training art loan learning training deposits make learning your training home good income learning outcome training issue medicine learning training drugs market learning money training trends self learning roof training repairing market learning training online secure skin learning training tools wedding learning training jewellery newspaper learning for training magazine geo learning training places business learning training design Car learning and training Jips production learning training business ladies learning cosmetics training sector sport learning and training fat burn vat learning insurance training price fitness learning training program furniture learning at training home which learning insurance training firms new learning devoloping training technology healthy learning training nutrition dress learning training up company learning training income insurance learning and training life dream learning training home create learning new training business individual learning loan training form cooking learning training ingredients which learning firms training is good choosing learning most training efficient business comment learning on training goods technology learning training business secret learning of training business company learning training redirects credits learning in training business guide learning for training business cheap learning insurance training tips selling learning training abroad protein learning training diets improve learning your training home security learning training importance

[From Gail Woods, Lecturer, Centre for Australian Languages and Linguistics, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Education, with respect to the Languages in Crisis summit]

Whilst the discussion paper is clearly focused on Languages Other Than Australian (LOTA) and the inherent security and economic risks associated with monolingualism, its sentiments could/should be subversively harnessed to develop the case for the maintenance of Australian languages.

For example, the pertinent benefits relating to studying a second language such as the increased rate of literacy development (as opposed to the myth that maintaining Australian languages decreases the uptake of English); the consistently high performance levels achieved by European children (who study second and third languages) as opposed to Australian children, in comparative literacy and numeracy tests; and “the cognitive benefits such as divergent thinking processes and more efficient uses of brain functions” could be equally fed into a proposal to reinstate properly resourced bilingual programs in schools where students’ first language is other than standard English.

That the industries of tourism and international education rely on a notion that Australia is “a tolerant society that welcomes people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds”, must be seen as laughable when we have demonstrated such a poor record of Indigenous language preservation and maintenance. Australian language and culture programs in schools are miserably underfunded, if in fact they operate at all. They are then held up as failures, with the blame squarely placed on Indigenous communities. And when the dollars are tight they are the first to go.

Certainly, as stated in the discussion paper, schools should not be seen as a monolingual habitat and never was this more true than in remote community schools throughout Australia.

Comments

Thanks Gail, this is very interesting. Is the discussion paper available? Even though, it appears it only discusses non-Australian foreign languages, as you say, the same principles would apply.

I have to admit, I was seduced by the common-sense claim that retaining/teaching aboriginal languages could only inhibit English literacy/fluency. Pointing out that there need not be an 'either-or' situation tended to be my defence for the further emphasis on aboriginal languages.

But more recently, especially with the raging debate over English literacy standards and monolingual education, I've heard several people, you and Carmel O'Shannessy included, point out that bilingual education is shown not to hinder English 'educational outcomes' (I hate that phrase), and in some cases is beneficial for fluency and literacy in both languages.

Again, the situation really does appear to boil down to the vilification of aboriginal communities, an unfortunate case, but one that is consistent with land and housing funding in Tangentyere council, the inflated and occasionally concocted data with respect to compulsory English schooling, etc.

Schools should not be seen as a monolingual habitat and never was this more true than in remote community schools throughout Australia.

Hear, hear.

Hey Jangari,

And even more mind-blowing than 'it doesn't have to be either-or', is to ask those who assert that maintaining Indigenous languages hinders spoken and written competence in English to actually demonstrate that this is the case, rather than feeling the burden of proof is on those who disagree with this myth (as Gail so rightly calls it).

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Enter the code shown below before pressing post

The Authors

About the Blog

The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.
More

FAQ

Papua New Guinea FAQs from Eva Lindstrom Papua New Guinea (New Ireland): Eva Lindstrom's tips for fieldworkers

Australian Languages Answers to some frequently asked questions about Australian languages

Papua Web Information network on Papua, Indonesia (formerly Irian Jaya)

Hibernating blogs

Indigenous Language SPEAK

Langguj gel Australian linguistics and fieldwork blog

Interesting Blogs

Omniglot Writing systems and languages of the world

LingFormant Linguistics news

Language hat Linguistics news and commentary

Jabal al-Lughat Linguistics news and commentary on a range of languages

Living languages Blog with news items and discussion of endangered languages

OzPapersOnline Notices of recent work on the Indigenous languages of Australia

That Munanga linguist Community linguist blog

Anggarrgoon Claire Bowern's linguistics and fieldwork blog

Savage Minds A group blog on Anthropology

Fully (sic)

Language on the Move Intercultural communication and multilingualism

Talking Alaska: Reflections on the native languages of Alaska

Culture matters: applying anthropology Australian anthropology blog: postgraduates and staff

Long Road ethnography and anthropology blog - including about Australia

matjjin-nehen Blog on Australian linguistics, fieldwork, politics and the environment.

Language Log Group blog on language and linguistics

Links

E-MELD The E-MELD School of Best Practices in Digital Language Documentation

Tema Modersmål Website in Swedish with links to sites on and in many languages

Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project: Language Documentation: What is it? Information on equipment, formats, and archiving, and examples of documentation

Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources a worldwide network of organizations, academics, activists, indigenous groups, and others representing indigenous and tribal peoples

Technorati Profile

Technology-enhanced language revitalization Include ILAT (Indigenous Languages and Technology) discussion list.

Endangered languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia

Koryak Net Information on the people of Kamchatka

Linguistic fieldwork preparation: a guide for field linguists syllabi, funding, technology, ethics, readings, bibliography

On-line resources for endangered languages

Papua New Guinea Language Resources Phonologies, grammars, dictionaries, literacy, language maps for many PNG languages

Resource network for linguistic diversity Networking practitioners working to record,retrieve & reintroduce endangered languages

Projects

ACLA child language acquisition in three Australian Aboriginal communities

DELAMAN The Digital Endangered Languages and Musics Archives Network

PARADISEC The Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures

Murriny-Patha Song Project Documenting the language and music of public songs and dances composed and performed by Murriny Patha-speaking people

PFED The Project for Free Electronic Dictionaries

DOBES Endangered language documentation and archiving, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and sponsored by the Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen.

DELP Documenting endangered languages at the University of Sydney

Ethno EResearch Exploring methods and technology for streaming media and interlinear text