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  5. Lessons learnt in 2009
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Lessons learnt in 2009

The three main topics are:

  • The power of networks across locations
  • Recognising similarities and differences
  • Technology and innovative language teaching.

The power of networks across locations

The viability of a language program is increased when a larger number of people are involved. Aboriginal languages in NSW often have a limited number of speakers, community teachers and resources, so finding ways to best share language expertise across locations is critical. Schools and communities in towns along the lower Darling River have derived a lot of strength and support from working together to overcome some of the challenges of building a sustainable Paakantyi-Barkindji program.

Recognising similarities and differences

As Murray Butcher said at one of the meetings this year, the name of the language comes from paaka (river) and means ‘belonging to the river’. There are strong similarities in the way the language was spoken all along the Darling River and so it is wise to develop and share common teaching programs and resources. But it is equally important to develop programs which recognise the different groups and dialects of Paakantyi-Barkindji.

Technology and innovative language teaching

Technology can support the teaching of Aboriginal languages, especially audiovisual materials which help learners to accurately learn the sounds of the language. Schools and communities along the Darling River have been using connected classrooms and video-conferencing facilities to develop their programs. Menindee Central School has been developing a series of interactive whiteboard activities based on Paakantyi-Barkindji stories told by old people. These stories are an opportunity for students to learn about older generations of storytellers; and at the same time the technology provides activities for learning about the pronunciation and grammatical patterns of the language.

Congratulations to the Lower Darling River Schools Program Team for their achievements in 2009. The highlight of the program for this year was the building of relationships between school staff and community members in a number of towns and the way those towns linked together to grow a critical mass of people who can work together to build the program and resources.

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