Tag Archives: school

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.

Using Kriol books with Indigenous students – part 2

Liz Clarkson is a year 9 teacher at Marrara Christian College in Darwin. At the end of 2017 she experimented with using Kriol books from the Living Archive with her class of Indigenous students. Here she describes how she used the materials the second time – see Part 1 for how she initiated the activity the week before.

The following week the groups followed the same instruction sheet for the Kriol text Bog La Mad (Bogged in the mud) from the Living Archive. I had downloaded the book from the website this time and it was much easier to click through the pages than working directly online. This was great as the pictures are lovely and help with understanding as well.

Our most confident Kriol speaker became our ‘consultant,’ so as we worked through the text she corrected as she saw fit, which gave her the role of ‘teacher.’ Then later we compared our translations with the English text that was provided on the last page of the book. That was enlightening for all of us to see if a sentence had been translated with different words or different meaning or perhaps in a more poetic and descriptive way. For example, the translation in the book had ‘exhausted’ but we had used the words ‘weak’ and ‘tired’ which were more literal translations of the text.

Examples of colour-coding and translations of Bog la Mad, with the translation from the book.

Because of the difficulties with the lower group the previous week, I didn’t put the students with lower literacy in a group. Instead I went around to each of them individually while the others went on with their reading activities. With each of them I read through the story in Kriol, they listened and told me what it meant. We discussed the meanings of some  different words, and I asked them to give me an oral summary of the story. We used this activity as a basis for comprehension and forming sentences in English based on the Kriol.

In summary here’s what I got out of the activity as a teacher:

  • It was a useful diagnostic tool which helped me understand which students understand how to use articles and prepositions in Standard Australian English.
  • It showed how students are influenced by their first language.
  • It helped me understand better which students could understand Kriol as a common language even though it wasn’t their mother tongue.
  • It was interesting to see low literacy students able to listen to Kriol and translate it orally with good accuracy.
  • I could experience being the student, as the students could teach pronunciation and meaning to the teacher. This was fun and empowering for the students.

What did the students get out of it?

  • Students learnt that there are lots of stories written in Aboriginal languages (not just told).
  • Students who were reasonably literate in English could soon get used to how to read Kriol as they were familiar with Kriol sounds and could use English reading skills to decode Kriol.
  • Students were able to see how words can be translated in different ways, and see how the grammar of Kriol differs from English.
  • It was fun to do an activity that placed value on Aboriginal languages and authors and stories. Students were excited to look up the Living Archive for stories in other languages they knew better or from their home communities.

This is the worksheet used in the class: Instructions for using LAAL books

Do you have a story to share about using materials from the Living Archive? Contact us and we can publish it here, with links from our social media sites.

Using Kriol books with Indigenous students – part 1

Liz Clarkson is a year 9 teacher at Marrara Christian College in Darwin. At the end of 2017 she experimented with using Kriol books from the Living Archive with her class of Indigenous students. Here she describes how she used the materials the first time – see Part 2 for how she revised the activity for the group the following week.

My year 9 class consists of students from Minyerri, Beswick, Yarralin, Belyuen and Maningrida. Their literacy in English is not strong, and I wasn’t sure whether they would all be able to understand Kriol but I thought there was a good chance they would relate to Kriol because of the common usage of Aboriginal English. This did seem to be the case and most students did respond to it. We read the story Grin Brog (Green Frog) in Kriol and also watched another video of The Christmas Story in Kriol and they really responded well to both.

One student who seemed to relate the least was from Belyuen where they don’t speak Kriol. But interestingly enough, another student from the same community could understand it and responded really positively.

There were two groups, one more literate than the other. The first group worked through the instruction questions fairly successfully. We read the story together. One student who was confident in Kriol was able to decipher it even though she was not used to reading Kriol. She said some of the words were different to what she was used to, probably because these books were published in Barunga and use the local variety of Kriol. Each student was able to discuss the meaning in English. We looked for Kriol words which repeated in the story and then wrote down what those words were in English.

coloured_textThe students all seemed attracted to different tasks but were all engaged. One student colour coded a number of words – colouring all the same words one colour and working out what those words were. Although they all translated one or two sentences, one student enjoyed going on with this and worked hard to write down translations for the whole text. I could see from his writing that he struggled to notice when articles and prepositions were needed in English. Another student was not keen to write but orally worked on translations with me. She was able to switch easily to the correct use of articles and prepositions.

This was an interesting diagnostic tool for me to see who was switching confidently and who struggled to recognise differences between Kriol and English. I would try this activity earlier in the year next time so I could include some of these aspects in my program planning.

With the lower group, concentration and behaviour was an issue. We sat on the floor with clipboards. It was hard to use the digital version of the book as we were on the website trying to view it instead of downloading, which lets you click through the images more easily. The lesson with the lower group was a little less successful as there was one student who was happy to copy the translations but he wasn’t really learning through it. Another student who was not keen to read or write was happy to listen to me read the Kriol and he could tell me what it meant. This group found it hard to concentrate on what they might learn from the language exercise.

Liz works with a student in her class at Mararra (photo courtesy of ABC)

Go to Part 2 to read about the second class using Kriol resources, and Liz’s reflections about what she and the students learned from the activity.

Little J & Big Cuz

Little J Big Cuz Logo

In case you missed it last year, Little J and Big Cuz was a wonderful cartoon series on NITV, reported as being “Australia’s first animated show to feature Indigenous Australians and their culture.”  There are adaptations in some Indigenous languages.

The website includes a comprehensive list of supporting resources for educators, and several resources from the Living Archive. The episode on Transformation lists several titles for Foundation Years in HASS to support learning from the show.

The Living Archive project team is delighted to be included in such a fantastic resource.

Testimonial from language teacher

As head of languages at Meriden school (Strathfield NSW) until 2015, I was very grateful to discover the materials available for the Warlpiri and Anmatyerr languages on the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages website. The school has a relationship with the Ti Tree community in the Northern Territory and there is a group of students from the community studying at Meriden. These students bring a rich cultural and linguistic heritage to our school community, which I am always interested in helping them share with the broader school population. When I showed the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages to the Ti Tree students, they were really interested to see stories and books produced in their language by people they know. We were able to download a couple of the stories and have them bound into booklets. These were used to help students share stories in their language.

Sincere thanks to all who have contributed to this site, from the hard-working community members to the site creators and administrators.

Mark RichardsMark Richards 2
MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development
ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language
Western Sydney University

wsu_logo      coedl_logo

If you have a story about using the materials in the Living Archive, contact us!

LAALcomp ibooks entries

A number of entries into the LAALcomp used iBooks Author to create their entries. These files only play on Apple devices but you can download them here and play them on your own device. WARNING – the files are very large!

GitkitGitkit ga Wäḻuŋu (iBooks) in Warramiri from Gäwa (Elcho Island)

From the author: “This is an important story for Warramiri people. It teaches the kids how to speak language. I recorded an old lady telling the story, then wrote the text and recorded it. Ranhdhakpuy drew the pictures, and Colin put it together using iBooks author.”

Ngay_kaNgay-ka ngurrinidha ku kurnern-nu in Murrinh-Patha from Wadeye (ZIP file – 21Mb)

From the author: “I was taken for mussels in mangroves by a family and I was amazed at the children’s ability to spot the mussels camouflaged in the mud. I thought it was a fun way to use the hunting trip as a way of introducing counting to the very early years. I took photos on the trip and reduced the size in Photoshop. I used ibooks author to create the digital story and at the end used widgets from ibooks Author and iAd producer to give some interactive activities for the children.”

MiyernuMiyernu nangkal nukun in Murrinh-Patha from Wadeye (ZIP file 26 Mb)

From the author: “It is a fun, inquisitive text for very early years. I typed the text, then an artist drew pictures. I scanned them and reduced the size in Photoshop. I used ibooks author to create the digital story and at the end used widgets from ibooks Author, Bookry and iAd producer to give some interactive activities for the children.”

LAALcomp wrap-up

The competition has closed, the results are in, the winners are announced. Here’s a short recap of the Living Archive’s Digital Story Competition.

UPDATE – listen to ABC Darwin’s report about the competition!

The competition launched in May 2015, thanks to a bequest from a longtime supporter of Indigenous education, who requested that donations to the Living Archive project be made in lieu of flowers at her funeral in December 2014. The project team wanted that money to go to something that would engage people in the stories contained in the archive, so the idea of a competition was birthed.

Many people who look at our archive enjoy seeing the stories, and often ask Can we listen to them? Sadly our project doesn’t have the capacity to record or digitise audio and video files that go with the stories (although we know there are a lot out there!), so we’re always looking for ways to add multimedia recordings. And we know that there are many very creative people around, with access to useful tools to create interactive materials. Since we are creating a living archive, we wanted to make sure that the original story owners approved the entries, so entrants had to get signed permission from the creators.

The entries were slow to come in – not surprisingly with the busyness of the school year – so we extended the deadline by two weeks. In the end we had 13 valid entries. The competition was open to anyone in Australia, but interestingly, almost all came from remote communities in the NT. One was from WA but the teacher had connections with an author in a remote NT community where she used to work, and another designer contacted a community to get permission.

The instructions were very general, allowing any combination of text, image and audio. As a result, the entries represented many different presentation styles, including:

  • a teacher reading a story directly from the book
  • an animated video created by year 3/4 students with narration in English and language
  • a video of children ‘acting out’ parts of a story in the playground
  • a video mixing pages from the book with simple ‘stop-motion’ animation using toys
  • an animated video with English subtitles
  • a recording with props and a bright background, followed by a song
  • a narrated Powerpoint presentation read by the author
  • ibooks with audio components and fantastic graphics
  • a website with animated video and a recording of a class performance at assembly

Three judges were invited to assess the entries:

  • Bruce Pascoe – Indigenous author from Victoria, winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 2013, advocate of Indigenous languages
  • Dr Kevin Gillan – Executive Director of Education Partnerships with NT Department of Education
  • Jeanie Bell – Indigenous linguist and senior lecturer at Batchelor Institute

They were asked to judge according to the following criteria:

  • Presentation: The layout and format support the content
  • Usability: the entry is easy to open and view, doesn’t crash or freeze
  • Engagement: The entry is creative and engages the audience
  • Enhancement: The digital story enhances the original PDF
  • Technical skills: The entry makes good use of the available technology
  • Overall: The entry is well-compiled and complete

All the judges spoke highly of the entries they viewed, praising their creativity and the work that went in to creating these multimedia resources. some of their comments include:

  • A very impressive collection of stories brought to life through digital technologies”
  • “The high level of student participation in their development is to be commended.”
  • “Beautifully illustrated and excellent animation”
  • “It was interesting to note the number of entries that used a number of multimedia tools in their approach.”
  • “A fantastic way to engage students, community and school staff in developing a creative approach in the celebration and use of local languages.”
  • “It was a real honour to be asked to watch and listen to these stories”

cdu:31312When the judges’ scores were added up, we found that we had a tie for first place! And surprisingly, both entries were for the same story – a delightful tale of three clams, called 
Ḏiŋ’ Ḏaŋ’ ga Ḏoŋ’
. You can see both entries here – click on the URL (bottom right) for the Shepherdson College entry, and click ‘watch’ (above the cover picture) for the FaFT entry.

Congratulations to the FaFT Playgroup at Galiwinku and Ellemor 8 at Shepherdson College who will share the $1000 prize pool between them.

Thanks to all the entrants for your fantastic contributions.

All the entries are now available here, as well as being added to their corresponding books in the Living Archive.

Nemarluk School visit

mascotAt the invitation of teacher Kristie Moseley, Trish Joy and Cathy Bow from the Living Archive project visited Nemarluk School in Stuart Park. Nemarluk School is a Northern Territory Department of Education and Children’s Services school for children who require specialised and individualised educational programs. Kristie’s class has a number of Indigenous students and she tries to incorporate Indigenous stories and knowledge into her classes as much as possible.


We told the students about the many different languages of the Northern Territory and how even though write with the same letters as English, the words are hard to read if you don’t know how to speak the language. We showed them some Anindilyakwa words, which are really long, and we showed them where Anindilyakwa is spoken on Groote Eylandt on the Living Archive poster map.

an0022Trish then read a story from Groote Eylandt about the Crocodile and Blue Tongue Lizard, which talks about how the animals made their homes but then got into an argument and now they have different habitats.  The story was told by a great old storyteller who has since passed away, and the pictures were drawn by children in schools at Angurugu, Umbakumba and Bickerton Islands.

Nemarluk_10_cropThen the children chose animals and made their own pictures about where the animals live and what they eat, then they shared some of the traditional Aboriginal stories they’d done in class previously.

We looked at some more books on the Living Archive website, showing how they can find books by language or place, and they can download and print the books to look at in class, or their families can look at them on their phones or computers. We showed them where to find the English translation if there is one (usually at the end of the story), and talked about how difficult it can be to translate from one language to another. The kids were able to understand some of the Kriol story we read to them, and they repeated some of the words we heard from a Dhuwaya story.

Thanks to Kristie, Rina, Amanda and all the lovely kids at Nemarluk for welcoming us, and we look forward to hearing more stories about how you’ve used materials from the Living Archive in your classes. Nemarluk_22



Worawa students love the Living Archive!

Sally Cunningham from Worawa College visited us in Darwin recently, and shared with us about how the school is using materials from the Living Archive.


Worawa Aboriginal College is a girls’ boarding college catering for Indigenous girls in years 7-10.Worawa is located in Healesville, Victoria, about an hour’s drive east of Melbourne. The 70 students currently attending Worawa College come from across Australia, many from remote communities in the Northern Territory. Most students speak an Aboriginal language as their first language, and some students speak up to four languages, as well as English.

At Worawa College, we acknowledge the richness and diversity of our students’ languages, and we also recognise the cultural pride and strength that comes from valuing these languages in the academic program. All of our students engage with some language work within the school week, and some students are part of targeted language literacy work.

The Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages is often used in this teaching and learning. For the students who have been immersed in their language, these archives can enhance and support their reading and writing. For students who are beginning to learn their heritage language, the archives are used to explore different topics and learn new words. As language and culture is embedded across our curriculum, the archive has been used in a variety of subject areas. Language books have been used to look at bush foods in Science, and for exploring different stories for incorporation in artworks.

Students actively engage with their first or heritage languages, and also enjoy exploring the languages of their friends at Worawa. The Living Archive books can provide a link to their home communities through language and some students recognise authors, artwork and images from family members This can be very powerful for them.

By Sally Cunningham and Kathryn Gale

Wurrumiyanga visit

Project manager Cathy Bow recently visited Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island in regard to the collection of Tiwi books for the Living Archive project.

Wurrumiyanga was one of the first communities I visited when the project began in 2012, and Tiwi is still one of my favourite collections of books. Wonderful stories with incredible illustrations, good metadata (identifying who wrote and illustrated each book, what year it was published, etc.) and almost all with English translations. The Literature Production Centre at MCPS (Murrupurtiyanuwu Catholic Primary School) has a resource room with lots of copies of each book, in numerical order, some carefully packaged up to protect them from dust, all carefully preserved and easy to access.

Tiwi LPC (1)

The resource room at the Literature Production Centre at MCPS Wurrumiyanga

All the books are neatly arranged in order

I travelled with Ailsa Purdon, the language and literacy advisor from the Catholic Education Office. She spent time with Fiona and Millika, helping them develop resources for teaching Tiwi language and culture in the classrooms. They were excited to see the books on the Living Archive website, and Fiona was enjoying reading the stories aloud and explaining them to us. The illustrations she made for Ngirramini ngini Japarra amintiya Purrukuparli (The Tiwi legend of Japarra and Purrukuparli) are incredible.

Ailsa & Fiona (2)

Ailsa & Fiona exploring the Living Archive

Fiona's book

One of the many books Fiona illustrated

We met with the school principal, Daniel Graves, who was delighted to hear about the Living Archive project and keen to see it used in the classrooms. We discussed ways the materials can be used not just in Tiwi language classes, but also in history, science, English, and other parts of the school curriculum. He’s planning to get the LAAL Reader app to get all the Tiwi books on to the school’s iPads.


Dulcie Tipungwuti with the values of the school in Tiwi and English

Since we think it’s important to get approval from the original creators of the materials to put them on our open access website, I spent time going around the community with Dulcie Tipungwuti. She introduced me to many of the people who either worked in the LPC or were involved in telling or writing stories, or making illustrations. Everyone was happy to sign the permission form and was pleased to know that the books hadn’t been forgotten. There are still several people we haven’t found yet, but we’ll keep trying!

We bumped into Magdalen Kerinaiua who had come to the gathering of linguists and language workers we had at Batchelor last year, and who is still involved with language work at the Museum. I reminded her of the video made by ABC Open about her grandfather’s story. More of his wartime stories are available in one of the books in the LAAL collection: Ngirramini ngini Karri Ngiyarringani Kapani Yimamani Parlingarri (Purraputimali) (Memories of my father Louie Munkara) 

Tiwi Museum

From an exhibition in the Patakijiyali Museum

Sister Anne Gardiner has done amazing job keeping up the Patakijiyali Museum, with a focus on language and culture, including the sale of Tiwi language books and exhibitions incorporating Tiwi language. Sr Anne has been a long time advocate for Tiwi language and culture over many decades, and has been very helpful to the Living Archive project since it started.

I brought back more Tiwi language books to be scanned and uploaded to our archive, and with the signatures we managed to get I can release more books to public view on the website. We also found a video and an audio file to upload. We look forward to hearing about the exciting ways this fantastic material is being used in the school and the wider community.