In September 2016 VACL staff travelled via the flood diversions to Robinvale to work with VACL board member Brendan Kennedy and the Tati Tati, Mutti Mutti, Latji Latji and Wadi Wadi communities.
In a series of workshops over three days, a group of children were given the opportunity to create artwork, take photographs and record language words and songs for an upcoming app to be released featuring languages from North West Victoria.
Using iPads, cameras and art materials the children set out to illustrate close to 100 words for the upcoming Tyalingi App. The group were also recorded singing burpi, niti, partingi, thinangi (heads, shoulders, knees, toes) as part of a suite of songs which will also feature in the app. Children were then given the opportunity to individually practice and record Tati Tati, Mutti Mutti, Latji Latji and Wadi Wadi words with Brendan.
Brendan Kennedy runs the Robinvale Language Program Yakila Yarna Thalingi (Learning to Speak Language) at Robinvale P-12 College.
For more information on Yakila Yarna Thanlingi click here
Songs from Brendan Kennedy's book Wangilatha Wangu nga Kiyawatha will also feature in the upcoming app.
The Festival of Pacific Arts (FoPA) is the world's largest gathering of Indigenous Pacific cultures bringing together cultural practitioners, artists, academics, policy makers and researchers. A delegation of 60 artists were selected to represent Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultures at the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts. Last month, Paul Paton and Young Champion, Waka Waka woman Annalee Pope from First Languages Australia attended the Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam. Paul and Annalee represented Australia at the Festival’s Inaugural Indigenous Languages Conference where they discussed current work to support language revitalisation in Australia, particularly digital resources, the interactive language map, team and resource building projects. Their presentation was well received by other Pacific nations who found similarities in cultural contexts in their efforts to revitalise and maintain their languages. The festival was a good opportunity for knowledge sharing among different language groups throughout the Pacific. Paul commented that the keynote address by Dr Robert Underwood on his connection to language was one of the highlights of the festival. Dr Underwood is a politian and educator and the current President of the University of Guam.
The 12th festival was held in Guam from May 22 - June 4 and has been held every four years since 1972. The festival unites groups from 27 countries throughout the Pacific and aims to showcase arts and culture. The two weeks of festivities aim to enhance people’s understanding and appreciation for their Pacific neighbours. Hawaiʻi will be hosting the Festival of Pacific Arts (FoPA) in 2020.
Students at Swan Hill Primary School are enjoying their third year learning Wemba Wemba language, taught by Wemba Wemba Elder Aunty Steph Charles and Koorie Educator Andrew Cameron.
Lessons to date have focused around the use of traditional language in a contemporary context through themes such as local birds, greetings, family members and body parts, taught through repetition, gesture, songs and memory games. Launched on Monday 15th February 2016, students have now created their own Wemba Wemba Language Program resource in the form of an interactive digital app, which contains word list categories accompanied by images and audio, in Wemba Wemba.
With the support of key Elders Aunty Steph Charles & Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir, Swan Hill Primary School Principal Janet Barnard, Koorie Educator Andrew Cameron, Community Linguist Vaso Elefsiniotis, Teacher Rachel Moloney and VACL Project Officer Emma Hutchinson, Grade 3 students learning Wemba Wemba undertook a series of workshops in which they created hundreds of drawings and photographs for the app, illustrating each language word.
The student’s creative use of language, art and technology has resulted in an interactive app with 13 word categories, including animals, body parts, counting, placenames, phrases, objects and songs.
This digital project is a partnership between Swan Hill Primary School, Traditional Owners, Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VACL), Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI) & Miromaa Aboriginal Language and Technology Centre. The development of these digital resources will support language reclamation and revitalisation activities in Victorian schools and communities.
The App is available now for FREE download at the App Store, for use on iPad and iPhone.
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