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Progress in 2010

Paakantyi Language Circle

Three two-day meetings were held at Menindee Central School (in March), Wilcannia Central School (in August) and Broken Hill Department of Education and Training Offices (in October).
Schools participating were Menindee Central School, Wilcannia Central School, Alma Public School and St Therese’s Community School. Most welcome was the presence of school principals on several occasions, along with community members, Aboriginal Education assistants, teachers, Board of Studies officers and invited guests.

Regular participants in the meetings were:

  • from Menindee: Kaylene Kerwin, Robert Lindsay, Eileen Williams, Pansy Williams, Danielle Fellowes
  • from Wilcannia: Murray Butcher, Steven Harris, Kevin Bates, Emma Vuakatagane, Janine Johnson, Kimberly Dove, Michelle Nicholson, Patrick Ellis
  • from Broken Hill (Alma): Pam Bugmy, Chris Hunter, Bonnie Blair, Larry Micevski,
  • from Sydney: Kevin Lowe, Marjory Ellsmore.
Wilcannia Central School, August 2010 – language circle meeting.
Wilcannia Central School, August 2010 –
language circle meeting.

The Paakantyi Language Circle comprises community members and teaching staff from the above schools. Its main concern in 2010 was to produce and support language teaching programs for the schools involved. Collecting existing resources and recording Paakantyi language to incorporate into the programs was also undertaken.

The Language Circle was successful in its application to DEWHA for the position of a Paakantyi Language Coordinator, taken up by Murray Butcher, to be based in a resource centre situated in Wilcannia Central School, which is the coordinator of the funding. The funding also covers further resource capture and development for the Language Circle’s school and community language programs.

Program development

At the 2010 meetings, programs for each school were showcased and issues for each school discussed. Ways to develop language programs from Scope and Sequence (PDF, 107 KB) to Units of Work (PDF,112 KB) to Lesson Plans (PDF, 121 KB) , and examples of good language teaching strategies were brainstormed and discussed. By the meeting in October, Scope and Sequence outlines for some K–6 and Stage 4 classes had been finalised; see Engaging students in language learning (PDF, 77 KB) and Linking the sound system with the written word(PDF, 62 KB)

Strategies to reinforce and make the language programs more visible were canvassed and shared, including:

  • displaying student work in classrooms around the school, at assemblies and in school and community newsletters
  • involving parents in the learning
  • bringing community members to the classroom to share knowledge
  • stronger communication between language teachers and the class teacher
  • enabling time for students to practise language in other situations – at home and in other classes.

A major achievement for 2010 was the consolidation of Paakantyi teaching and learning programs, now established for two years at Menindee Central school, including a Stage 4 100-hours School Certificate program.

Below are examples of teaching and learning programs that meet the requirements for the mandatory 100-hour language course.

Broken Hill, October 2010 – Uncle Stevie Harris,  Murray Butcher and Uncle Buddy (Kevin) Bates.
Broken Hill, October 2010 – Uncle Stevie Harris,
Murray Butcher and Uncle Buddy (Kevin) Bates.


The development of teaching and learning resources was also progressed by two major achievements:
  • the appointment of Murray Butcher as coordinator of the Paakantyi Language Circle and the gathering together of all resources in one place. The digitisation of many of those resources has already begun and will be ongoing.
  • Robert Lindsay’s draft Learning Paakantyi Book 1, which serves as a basis for the language programs at Menindee Central School and Alma Public School.

At the October meeting, the teachers at St Therese’s Community School brought along the Catholic Education Office Paakantyi Program for K–6, Riverbank to Classroom, and also shared with Wilcannia Central School their Stage 1 program to make a link between the two schools for students in later Stages at the central school.

At the August meeting, Darren McKenney, Manager of the Miromaa Language and Technology Centre in Newcastle, demonstrated the power of web-based programs and electronic language archiving (such as at web-based programs and electronic language archiving) where evidence of a language can be archived, along with definitions, sound files and pictures, for easy retrieval and reference.

Daryn also introduced some other potential language tools including small, high-quality video equipment for recording and almost instantaneous downloading, and Marvin, a multimedia and animation program developed for the Commonwealth Government and available to schools free of charge.

At the October meeting, Greg Wilson from South Australia introduced the Arabana Language Recording project and discussed recording sound bites and how to use them.

Broken Hill, October 2010:  John Hobson (Koori Centre) and  Marjory Ellsmore
Broken Hill, October 2010:
John Hobson (Koori Centre) and
Marjory Ellsmore (Language Consultant).

John Hobson, Coordinator of Indigenous Languages Education at the Sydney University Koori Centre, worked through some linguistic issues for Paakantyi. In particular, the link between Roman alphabet spelling of certain sounds and the pronunciation of those sounds, and the issue of filling in the gaps where there are missing or non-existent words in Paakantyi, especially for European concepts such as days of the week, numbers, etc.

Broken Hill – Paakantyi language circle
Broken Hill – Paakantyi language circle.

In 2011 it is hoped to include Dareton, Coomeallah, Buronga and Wentworth schools in the Paakantyi Language Circle and to establish a Ngiyampaa Language Circle. The first meetings will be held in Menindee in February and will include Margaret Florey, co-founder and co-director of the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity. Plans for 2011 include working with Margaret – who is funded by the Commonwealth Government to provide support to language programs across Australia – and local facilitators for both Paakantyi and Ngyiampaa language program development.

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