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South Australian programs expand | Language, Indigenous, Pitjantjatjara, South, Teachers, Program, Learning, Adelaide | FATSILC, Fed. Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Languages and Culture
South Australian programs expand PDF Print E-mail
Education programs in South Australia  continue to develop a range of studies related to indigenous languages.

There are now approximately 45 individual programs being offered in South Australian Department of Education and Children's Services (DECS) facilities.

Greg Wilson, Curriculum Officer, Aboriginal Languages, at the Newton Curriculum Centre has provided an overview of indigenous language studies within the state system.

Ten languages are taught in the state education programs. These are Kaurna, Ngarrindjeri, Narungga, Nukunu, Yura Ngawarla, Arabana, Antikirinya, Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara and Wirangu Of the 45 programs offered, the breakdown is roughly 10 in the Children's Services sector (preschools) and 35 in the years Reception to 12.

Teaching teams involving a language and cultural specialist working with a teacher, are common to many of the programs, although in some instances the language and cultural specialist may work alone.

In two special instances, non - Aboriginal people are teaching alone in second language learning programs that are geographically distant from the land with which the target language (Pitjantjatjara) is associated.

In both these cases theteachers are fluent speakers,and have had longassociations with thelanguage. They teach with theknowledge and permission ofthe PitjantjatjaraYankunytjatjara Education Committee. One of these teachers has native-speakerlevel skills, the result of a 30year involvement with Pitjantjatjara people at Amata.

The other educator is anethno musicologist who hasworked with Pitjantjatjara people in the Adelaide Uni-Centre for Aboriginal Studies and Music for 10 years.


Teaching approaches and learning outcomes vary according to program type. Programs cover first language maintenance, second language learning, language revival (a cover term for revitalisation, renewal and reclamation). These differ according to the current status of the target language i.e. whether or not there are fluent speakers, or whether historical texts are the source of data for the program and language awareness.

This range of program types was first articulated through the national Australian Indigenous Languages Framework (AILF) project for years 11-12.

Programs are run with the support and permission from owners of the languages. For this reason the processes of negotiation, consultation, participation and partnership apply to the full range of school- community situations involving indigenous languages.

The teachers

Currently DECS is seeking to expand the options for teachers to train and retrain in indigenous languages, and is to offer support for the development of a one semester course in the Kaurna language. ( The language of the Adelaide plains, and north and south of Adelaide). This would be offered through Adelaide University.

Pitjantjatjara is currently taught through the University of South Australia. In addition, seven teachers from Kaurna Plains School are being supported in their involvement with a year 11 program at Inbarendi College.

On the whole however, training in indigenous languages is limited to on- site learning.