Gumbaynggirr Teaching and Learning PDF Print E-mail
Muurrbay Students at Mindi Mirlarl, Clarence River - 2006
Muurrbay Students at Mindi Mirlarl, Clarence River - 2006
David Prosser...
I remember Aunty Rose Fernando, Gamilaroi ,, Elder, who was the inaugural Chairperson of the NSW Board of Studies "NSW Aboriginal Languages Committee" saying "Language is our soul". This became one of the foundations of the NSW Aboriginal Languages Policy.

Twelve years later, coming back to my great grandfather's country (Nambucca Heads), I'm currently a student of Muurrbay Language and Culture Centre studying Gumbaynggirr language. This intensive program will help me to teach Gumbaynggirr language in schools.Also and most importantly to learn my "own" language.

I still hear Aunty Rose telling us what Language means to us as Goori people.And if I can say this, "Learning Language is a path of learning". Not just Language, but also Culture,Tradition, Respect, which are qualities that fulfil the soul. Now Iknow what Aunty Rose was saying when she said that "Language is our soul!" The Gumbaynggirr translation is "Gumbaynggirr ngaawa ngiyambagay miingi".

An intensive full-time language course 'Certificate IV in Teaching Gumbaynggirr Language and Culture Maintenance' is currently being offered to Indigenous people at Muurrbay Aboriginal Language and Culture Co-operative in Nambucca Heads. The support of the DAA through the NSWAboriginal Languages Database project has been crucial in enabling Muurrbay to offer this year long course. Muurrbay Chairperson, Uncle Ken Walker and Gary Williams are on the board of the NSWALRRC

The Gumbaynggirr language is taught in several schools and preschools, including St Mary's Bowraville, Bowraville Central and Nambucca High School.These classes work best when detailed language programs are being developed that include: appropriate cultural content, increasingly complex language structures and a variety of activities such as conversations, songs, stories and games.This means that the classes are lively and fun for the children, while at the same time the teachers know they are meeting Syllabus outcomes.This has been possible due to a team approach to programming: the Gumbaynggirr community teacher has worked closely with the school language teacher and Muurrbay language researchers/linguists.

In 2005, several other local schools expressed an interest in introducing Gumbaynggirr language classes.The main reason these have not gone ahead is the lack of Gumbaynggirr language teachers. In response to this need, Muurrbay is offering a course that not only helps students learn Gumbaynggirr, but also assists them in developing skills in how to teach language. Muurrbay recognises that simply knowing some Language is not enough, people need to develop their teaching skills, before they can comfortably take on room full of excited children!

The Muurrbay students are preparing language learning activities which they will later deliver in schools.They are making language teaching resources and are getting hands on experience with several computer programs including Word, Powerpoint and audio programs like Adobe Audition.We hope to include mentoring that will give students time to work with experienced teachers of Gumbaynggirr, and possibly other languages.

The class is being taught by teacher-linguist Brother Steve Morelli with the support of Gumbaynggirr language teachers Ken Walker and Gary Williams. Brother Steve who has worked with Gumbaynggirr people to revitalise their language for over twenty years.Teacher-linguist Julie Long is providing an introduction to Australian linguistics and language teaching skills and methodology, and together with Sue Tomkins is providing training in Information and Communication Technology that assists students to prepare language classes and resources.

Several students recently attended a two day Board of Studies workshop in Nambucca Heads, where they began work on a school Gumbaynggirr language program.The workshop brought together Gumbaynggirr language speakers and teachers, school language teachers and linguists to program a language course that suits the local community and also conforms to the Aboriginal Languages K-10 Syllabus.There are plans to teach this progra at Nambucca High and Bowraville Central School in 2007 as the mandatory Language Other than English(LOTE).

The student put their own words how they have appreciated the course.

 

Roy Ballangarry:
The Language Centre opened the doors for me after my time being there. I came back two days a week to brush up on my language as it's an ongoing programme.

Dallas Walker:
The course is good to take it home to teach he children and adults who are interested in heir own language and would rather speak Gumbaynggirr than English.

Mark Smith:
Cultural exploration and language will keep communities strong.

Barry Hoskins:
From this course I would like to go into he schools to teach the Goori kids the gumbaynggirr Language and Culture.Also to give the Goori kids back their identity and to earn to speak their language.

Tyrone West:
As a student who moved from Brisbane, we had no Aboriginal language classes, this gives me the opportunity to learn the language.

Department of Aboriginal Affairs supports Gumbaynggir Language Course

Mindi Miirlarl
Ph: (02) 65685695
Mob: 0404456992
Fax: (02) 65694295
Web: http://www.muurrbay.org.au/