Tag Archives: Arrernte

Arrernte students working on texts

David Moore from the Alice Springs Language Centre writes about how they’re using materials in the Living Archive.

Currently we are working on Ripponlea Institute with the development of Cert III in Applied Language. We need a stack of accessible and useful resources for our students in the various languages.

We looked at some of the Arrernte materials on the Living Archive and found that many of them are virtually unusable. They were written a long time ago, and have missing grammatical markers, older spelling, spelling mistakes and obscure words. This means that we can’t take these texts from the site and use them in class without extensive re-working.

What is needed is texts which enable the learner to progress with access to notes and explanations, guides to how grammar and lexical items are used in the text. It seems that the LAAL texts have that potential if spellings were regularised to conform to current Arrernte spelling, mistakes corrected and guides for the learner attached to current files.


I worked with some Arrernte teachers on a few texts, changing words to standard dictionary spellings and reorganising sentences so that this book can be read more easily in class. You can see one uploaded to LAAL as ‘Other Text’ for the story Anwerne Alheke Yerrampeke.

Over time we would like to re-work more of the texts as a class exercise for Cert III. Using texts in various classes we get a sense of how they can be developed. We could make an assessment task for students to work on creating new texts of enhancing some of the Arrernte books that are currently on LAAL.

Josiah Armstrong and I are working on the text for Akngulye arerte from the Arrernte collection in LAAL. We use the Arrernte Picture Dictionary and the Eastern and Central Arrernte to English dictionary to write current spellings: e.g. ‘othene’ changed to ‘uthene’. We will also make an English translation and glossary. The next stage would be to develop worksheets and activities based around the text.

Working on LAAL texts on whiteboard

Students will learn to read the texts and will read the text to primary classes when they are on VET work placements in schools. 

There are a number of pathways that this course supports: language teacher, translator, writer, illustrator, editor, language research assistant and Language Centre worker….

There is also a lot of potential here for further research, exploring some of the ways in which LAAL can influence language practices.

Central Australian update

Susan Moore, Indigenous Languages Program Support officer for the NT Department of Education, has been visiting communities around Central Australia and sharing about the Living Archive project and collecting new resources from communities which didn’t have bilingual education programs. She writes:

In Central Australia the Department of Education have been scanning and listing Kaytetye, Anmatyerr, Alyawarr, and Northern Arrernte books. This year I have visited eleven communities to showcase the Living Archive website and work with Indigenous staff to use the website in the classrooms. We have found it really helpful to put the books on the interactive white boards so the whole class can see the book and words clearly.

This project has been a good chance to ensure translations are correct and to translate some local traditional stories which were only in one language.  There was a traditional story from Ampilatwatja which was written only in English, and the community asked us to to work with an elder in town (Eileen Bonney) to translate it into Alyawarr.  It will be great to have this story in both languages to use in the school and community when it is accessible through the Living Archive.

The school language programs which have never had bilingual funding really appreciate the digitization of their books as they don’t have very many books since they haven’t had extra staffing and funding for Literature Production Centres.  Here are a few stories of how we have been working in schools. At Harts Range we identified a number of resources to be uploaded and received permission for all their Northern Arrernte books to be uploaded to the archive. At Tara Schools we found thirteen Kaytetye books in the school and realised that six traditional stories have gone missing over the last few years. This is causing concern as it’s a highly endangered language.

Tommy Thompson a Kaytetye elder said that ‘It is good to put all the books in the computer so when Kaytetye people are in other places they can read their stories. Students who are at boarding schools can also read their language stories. It could keep Kaytetye language strong’ ‘Ahenawe nyarte-arenye pipe ritemaylenke  apmere kngwerel. Angke Kaytetye atyeynge artewentyel’