The Puliima National Indigenous Language and Technology Forum took place in Melbourne this month. The event attracted over 230 people from nations across Australia as well as international guests. Energy and enthusiasm filed the William Angliss Institute as participants exchanged ideas and shared passion for language and culture.
In collaboration with KIWA, VACL hosted a KIWA SLAM workshop in the two days leading up to the conference, where a language app was produced by participants from across Australia in collaboration with the facilitators. The app was produced in six languages; Bundjalung, Dharug, Ngarrindjeri, Wonnarua, Gathang and English, and will be released on the app store soon. Other workshops and practical demonstrations explored how to create iBooks, dictionaries, recordings and teaching resources in language.
On the Wednesday and Thursday attendees were spoilt for choice with three streams of presentations that focused on community, education and technology. More than 30 presentations were offered detailing the diverse projects communities and organisations are working on with the aim of keeping language alive.
VACL participated in presentations on Learning from Experience with Vicki Couzens, Kris Eira and Tonya Stebbins from the Meeting Point Research Team based at VACL. The Ankety Map - Review of Digital Tools for Language Work presentation was made by Paul Paton from First Languages Australia and the waqdamba-nganjin wurrung presentation was made by Emma Hutchinson, Paul Paton, Mandy Nicholson and Joel Wright from VACL.
Highlights included international guests from the Santa Fe Indian School who spoke about language revival in New Mexico and presentations by the Youth Champions; nine young people who each spoke about language projects they are working on.
On the Wednesday evening of the event the famous Australia's Got Language was held with 12 acts taking to the stage. The show included outstanding performances of song, dance, poetry and comedy.
The summit enables discussions around projects, products and equipment to do with language and technology both nationally and internationally. Participants networked and collaborated on important issues at the forefront of the field. Puliima provides a stage to share successes and challenges while being reminded of the strength contained within the bigger movement dedicated to preserving and celebrating language. The word 'puliima' means 'making voice' in Awabakal language from Newcastle and Lake Macquarie where the Puliima conference started in 2007.
To download factsheets from the Meeting Point Project click here
To download the FREE app Walking on Country developed in the KIWA SLAM workshop visit the VACL App Store here
Don't have access to an iPad or iPhone? See videos of the app Walking on Country in each language at VACL's vimeo site here
Scroll down to see video and image gallery
The Robinvale Language Program 'Yakila Yarna Thalingi' (Learning to Speak Language) began at Robinvale P-12 College in July 2015, with Brendan Kennedy teaching local Aboriginal languages Tati Tati, Latji Latji, Wadi Wadi and Mutti Mutti to students from Prep to Grade 3.
The College has chosen an innovative approach to their Languages Other Than English (LOTE) program, offering all Prep to Grade 2 students classes in four different language groups; Aboriginal Indigenous, European, Pacific Islands and Asian. Students are then given the option of choosing which one to specialise in from Grade 3 onwards.
As part of the Aboriginal Languages class students have been learning songs, stories, games, body parts, plant names and places, all of which are imbedded with local knowledge and culture.
"I have a passion for my past, my peoples and my ancestral history. Language is imbedded within the landscape and it's not fair that our language doesn't recieve the respect and recognition it deserves. I've got a responsibility to make sure our kids and our grandkids have access to our language. All the answers we are looking for are in our language." - Brendan Kennedy
Brendan was born at Robinvale on Tati Tati Country and is a descendant of the Tati Tati, Wadi Wadi and Mutti Mutti tribal lands and language groups.
Brendan is also currently teaching language classes at Murray Valley Aboriginal Co-operative Early Child-Care Centre, Robinvale Pre-School and Mallee Family Care Playgroup.
To download a pdf version of Yakila Yarna Thalingi (Learning to Speak Language) click here
The Digital Children's Book Fair is an international event in Japan celebrating the best digital children's books from around the world. Authors, illustrators, app developers and distributors were brought together at the end of August to select and award stories targeted at children made as ebooks, apps and other formats. The international event is the first of its kind focused on digital publishing for children.
The Wurundjeri Creation Story called Dulaiwurrung Mungka-nj-bulanj (How the Platypus was Made) received an award for excellence in the Digital Children's Book Fair. Congratulations to Thornbury Primary School and Kiwa Digital who worked in collaboration with VACL on this project.
In April 2015 VACL launched three interactive digital storybooks featuring Creation Stories of the Wurundjeri People in both Woiwurrung and English; Balayang Wurrgarrabil-ut (Why Bats are Black), Gurrborra Nguba-nj Ngabun Baanj (Why the Koala Doesn't Drink Water) and Dulaiwurrung Mungka-nj-bulanj (how the Platypus Was Made).
To download the story in the app store by click here
To learn more about this project click here
To read more about the Digital Children's Book Fair click here
Last week on Wednesday September 2nd, Indigenous Literacy Day, Fitzroy Library visitors were treated to an Aboriginal Language Awareness Workshop presented by Wurundjeri woman and VACL Project Officer Mandy Nicholson. On a wet cold evening, more than 40 attendees enjoyed over an hour of learning more about Aboriginal Language in Victoria.
Mandy spoke about her own language journey, about links to culture and language, current language renewal projects and the state of language revival in Victoria, activities relevant to language training, the success of the Woi wurrung Language Program at Thornbury Primary School and the importance of multi-lingual education. The audience was then treated to a Woi wurrung language activity called 'aliens', followed by an extensive Q & A.
"Language was forcibly stopped and lucky we've got enough records that we can bring back our languages". - Mandy Nicholson
To read more about the Language Awareness Workshops offered by VACL click here
You can hear the full audio of the workshop here
VACL staff were blown away this week by students at Warrnambool Primary School, who did a fantastic job of recording narration for the QBooks project. The QBooks feature stories illustrated and narrated by the students themselves in both English and Peek Wurrung and are designed to foster the students appreciation for, and understanding of, traditional Gunditjmara languages in their area.
Students Airlie O’Brian and Simon Young were chosen to narrate the two stories which will feature in the Gunditjmara QBooks series. Both the students showed an amazing ability to pick up and speak the Peek Wurrung language, reflecting their dedication and enthusiasm for this exciting project.
With little prior exposure to Peek Wurrung, the students received pronunciation coaching from VACL’s own Joel Wright in the weeks leading up to the recording. On the day of the performance both students were very impressive; mastering the pronunciation and showing their pride for the project.
Airlie narrated The Lone Little Seagull by the Hopkins River. This story was written and illustrated by Grade 4 students of Warrnambool Primary School and focuses on reconciling differences and forming friendships.
Simon narrated How the Gundijmara got Fire, a Gunditmara Creation Story illustrated by the primary school students.
VACL is very excited to be working with Warrnambool Primary School on this project which will be available to download from the Apple App store early next year.
For more information on the up and coming QBooks click here
For more information about the Schools Digital Resource Project click here.
This week at Federation Square, Save the Children hosted a variety of workshops to highlight some the difficult situations faced by children all around the world, including sanitation, war and conflict and inadequate school facilities. VACL staff Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir and Mandy Nicholson teamed up with Save the Children to highlight some of the barriers faced by children when it comes to education.
In this workshop, students stepped into a classroom taught by a teacher who was speaking a language they didn't understand, in this case either Woi Wurrung or Boon Wurrung, and asked if they had any idea what was going on. This prompted the kids to contemplate many questions, including - do you think if you came to school everyday, and you couldn't understand what the teacher was saying, would you want to go to school? Would you feel confused? How can this problem be solved? What could make it easier?
This lesson was one well learned by the children who were really responsive to the exercise offering insightful and thoughtful responses to these challenges.
These issues are universal and relate to children overseas, children coming to Australia and Indigenous children in Australia whose 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th language is English.
Congratulations to Save the Children staff and volunteers, teachers and children from a variety of Primary and Secondary schools across Melbourne, VACL staff Mandy and Aunty Fay, and all others involved, for a very worthwhile event.
This year VACL again supported the Dungala-Kaiela Writers' Awards, a competition open to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers with a connection to Shepparton area. Our linguist, Dr Kris Eira, joined with Sharon Atkinson to judge the Language sections, and our EO Paul Paton presented the awards for these sections at Rumbalara, Shepparton, on October 31st.
Four Junior and six Youth entries were received in the Language sections, together with one outstanding Open entry. The judges were pleased to see that the level of Language had risen since last year's Awards, and the entries were highly original, ranging from informative research writing, through personal or imaginative stories, to poetic descriptive pieces.
This competition is working well to encourage young people especially to take an active interest in Language, and raise the use and awareness of Language in this area. Congratulations to the organisers and all the writers.
Sharing some snaps from VACL's trip to Warrnambool & Heywood this week.
VACL is working with Warrnambool Primary School and Heywood & District Secondary College to create some exciting new digital story books. Last week VACL members Paul Paton, Joel Wright and Emma Hutchinson, together with Victoria University student Ben Townsend, headed up to Warrnambool to speak with the staff and students of Warrnambool Primary School and Heyward District Secondary College.
The books will feature Gunditjmara Creation stories, illustrated and narrated by the students themselves. VACL is very excited to be collaborating with the schools and community to help see their creation stories come to life!
For more information about the Gunditjmara Qbooks Project click here.
For more information about the Schools Digital Resource Project click here.
Our very own Mandy Nicholson has created new signs for the Wurundjeri Stories Indigenous Signage Trail at Warrandyte State Park. Nicholson helped revitalise the outdated 'past tense' signage, to show that Wurundjeri is still a living, relevant culture and language.
"Woi wurrung [Wurundjeri language] is used throughout all the signs to raise awareness of our language and that we still use it" she says.
The Wurundjeri stories trail comprises of six signs which share knowledge on Wurundjeri history, culture, traditional life and people associated with this sacred site
Catch the full story here:
Earlier in September our very own Executive Officer Paul Paton, Project Officer Mandy Nicholson and Board Member Brendan Kennedy had the privilege of attending the WANALA (Western Australia and Northern Aboriginal Language Alliance) Biennial Conference.
The three day conference held in Broome connected linguists, language specialists and language centres from around the state and the nation, providing them with the opportunity to share knowledge, resources, acquire skills and collaborate on ways of working together in remote and difficult contexts.
This year’s conference was full of exciting workshops focused on engaging youth in language and learning, developing strategies around training and meaningful employment in the language domain, and workshopping sessions on technology and multimedia formats.
Mandy shared insight on what she gained from the conference:
She says that the range of different workshops and excursions she attended at the conference helped her develop useful skills for current language projects at VACL and language work in the future.
The workshops taught her techniques for filming successful interviews out on country, which will help her in a film project she is currently working on. Mandy saw examples of online language dictionaries, and learnt how languages were catalogued before computers which "would be great to use for when you're out on the field". Mandy was glad to hear from a range of youth language workers, as "some were fluent in about seven languages and some were like me and Aunty Fay [VACL Project Officer], translating sentences and grammar, working with languages that no-one speaks fluently".
Mandy, Brendan and Paul were also lucky enough to tour Broome and the Yawuru Country as part of the conference, with local Yawuru guides, to learn about the traditional and modern history of the land and sample local bush tucker - yum!
Thank you to Nyamba Buru Yawuru for providing the beautiful photos of the conference below.