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  3. The Workshops
  4. Project workshops
  5. 2005
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Term 1 Curriculum-writing workshop

Representatives from each school’s Aboriginal language program team were invited to attend a curriculum-writing workshop held on 2–3 March in Term 1 of 2005. The workshop was held at the Board of Studies office in Sydney. The most significant part of the workshop was the guest speaker and presenter, Greg Wilson, Policy and Program Officer Aboriginal Languages, Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Group, Department for Education and Children’s Services (DECS) from Adelaide, who has worked on curriculum development for Aboriginal languages in South Australia for many years. Greg brought along many resources that have been created both in South Australia and elsewhere and shared his experience and expertise with everyone. Of particular interest were the Arabana resources (Wilson and Hercus 2004) and South Australian Curriculum Standards and Accountability (SACSA) Framework: Languages, Australian Indigenous Languages (DECSSA 2003). We benefit from sharing information with each other, not only within NSW but also across the country.

The following websites from South Australia are also useful.

DECS (where Greg works):

Support materials:

SACSA Framework:

Many thanks to Greg Wilson for providing challenging and engaging ideas and sharing his knowledge with us!

Term 2 - Individual workshops in schools

Dharawal/Dhurga Aboriginal Language Program teams

Change pop up caption to: Back row: Glad Worthy, Karen Lane, Waine Donovan, Mitch Martin, Jeff Williams, Trish Ellis, Jennifer Munro.  Front row: Wendy Brown, Ursula Brown, Gary Worthy, Helen Pussell, Jeff Ward, Jutta Besold, Pauline Delauney, Kerry Boyen

The first workshop for the Dharawal/Dhurga language programs was held at Vincentia High School on 10–11 May, 2005. There were many comments that the venue was too noisy and being in the school meant that some team members were called away on other school business. Language work and programming require great concentration so getting a site with minimal interruptions and distractions is a great tip for anyone considering a language workshop. One of the highlights of the workshop was a presentation by Trish Ellis from National Parks and Wildlife on the topic of including cultural content throughout a program. Trish produces a monthly newsletter, Coastal Custodians (see, for example, Volume 2, Issue 10 Nov/Dec 2005, pp 17–18) and regularly updates the readership on the Dhurga Djamanj at Broulee Public School. Many thanks to Trish!

Workshop participants’ comments included the following:

'We really established a sort of plan of where we are going with lessons. [This was a] good workshop on the sounds of letters and all the linguistic side of things. Great to do all the pronunciation guides.'

'It became very clear how important it is to teach the community teachers the right pronunciation/spelling system ....'

'[It’s] important that ALL team members are present at all times during workshops.'

'[This workshop] made us realise that the programs can’t operate without confident teachers. Classroom management and discipline skills are essential.'

'The venue was unsatisfactory – too many distractions.'

Yuwaalarray/Gamilaraay language workshop held at Lightning Ridge Central School and St Joseph’s Walgett

The first workshop for the Yuwaalaraay/Gamilaraay language programs was held at Lightning Ridge Central School and St Joseph’s Walgett on consecutive days from 1–3 June 2005. A highlight was visiting the language rooms in each school, where there are paintings and artefacts as well as teaching resources. They provide a real focus on Aboriginal language culture within the schools.

Workshop participants’ comments included the following:

'Different meetings [were needed] because people were at different levels.'

Some participants said the workshop was helpful because they received 'descriptions of sounds, support from the Board of Studies' … [and] 'one-on-one programming and layout assistance.'

'The day at the Ridge was a day for me to look at change because of how Jennifer spoke about the units of work that we would have to do for each program and each class.'

'More clarity [is required] at the start of the year of what is expected of language programs over the four terms of the year, ie goal/strategies from the Board of Studies.'

Wiradjuri language workshop held in Forbes

The first workshop for the Wiradjuri Language Programs was held in Yoorana Gunya Aboriginal Health Centre and Forbes North Public School on consecutive days, from 23–24 May 2005. The highlights of this workshop included the number of young community people who attended (due to the fact that the first day was held at a local Aboriginal organisation) and the work on the sound system and orthography.

One workshop participant commented:

'I found the first workshop beneficial as it increased my awareness of sounds and how they fit in to Wiradjuri… learning about orthographic sound charts and the ones that [are] evident in Indigenous [languages] and especially Wiradjuri sounds.'

Participants said the workshop was useful or helpful because it involved the following:

  • holding the workshop at an Aboriginal community organisation
  • the introductory talk on the IPA International Phonetic Alphabet
  • the attendance by a broad range of community people
  • opportunities for networking with a range of people.

Term 4 – Reflection and evaluation

During Term 4 each school was visited to evaluate and reflect on the workshops and objectives of 2005. The results are used throughout this site but here are some more of the comments received, which are invaluable in planning for future activities.

'The positive side for myself with this Wiradjuri Language Program is that it makes me feel like I want to learn my own language now. Because Gamilaraay and Wiradjuri are so similar, it's not going to be hard for me to learn another language. And also the positive side of that is that that’s another tool for me to take out when I finish my teaching degree, which will be in three years' time. … And also being offered to do another extra year after my Bachelor to teach Aboriginal languages in schools.'

Virginia Wake, AEA, Parkes High School, 11/11/05

A Yuwaalaraay Language Program member said that one positive has been the development of 'self-belief to question and talk up regarding anything to do with language'.

The Yuwaalaraay Language Program team also commented that an unexpected benefit for students was that '… students feel comfortable coming to the language room with problems'.

Feedback from the Dharawal/Dhurga Language Program members included the following:

'Having the kids actually represent the different language groups in Djuwin country was very powerful. It made teaching about dialects much easier.'

'Balancing teaching own class with teaching the language has been challenging.'

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