Dr Alice Gaby from Monash University shares how she used the Living Archive in the undergraduate linguistics course “
I got the students to use the archive for various short homework exercises. For example:
- Find a likely instance of nominal morphology.
- Is there any evidence of allomorphy?
- If so, what are the allomorphs and what are their respective distributions?
- What is the most likely function of this morpheme?
The students also used the archive to complete a project in which they constructed a part of a learner’s grammar on the basis of the primers/readers and similar. For example, one group had a plain-language explanation of how grammatical relations are expressed (e.g. “how you know who is doing the action and who is affected by it”). The students really loved working with the real language materials.
I suggested to the LAAL team that it would be useful to be able to copy and paste the citation reference for the books the students used. Now they’ve added that feature, it will be really useful next time I run the Australian languages unit (first semester 2016).
If you have a story to share about how you’ve used materials from the Living Archive, let us know!
REPORT ON PRE-ALS WORKSHOP ON 9 DECEMBER 2014
In the beautiful Birabahn building at the University of Newcastle, around 40 people gathered to discuss how Universities can help in the learning of Indigenous languages. Following a warm welcome to Awabukal country, and an overview and a few presentations about the current situation, the challenges and opportunities, a series of speed presentations reported on courses currently available through Australian universities. These include
Michael Christie also spoke of the possibility of producing small online courses (‘mini-MOOCs’) under the authority of language owners, using materials already available through the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages. Other sessions focused on language programs being developed and delivered in language centres, such as the Muurrbay Aboriginal Language & Culture Cooperative, and collaboration between a local language community and the University of Western Sydney College
There was some discussion of qualifications and training for people wanting to teach their languages, such as the University of Sydney’s Masters of Indigenous Language Education, and the development of a new Bachelor of Education (Aboriginal) which will require students to learn an Indigenous language. There was also discussion about ways of linking University studies to the needs of communities, such as ‘translating’ complex linguistic explanations into simple language, and opportunities for students and others to engage with language materials, such as through the State Library of NSW or the Living Archive project. First Languages Australia are developing a framework for teaching and learning Aboriginal languages, which is open for consultation.
Some of the issues raised during the day included
- the need for training for elders to teach their languages and share their knowledge
- concerns about low rates of pay for language teachers
- the lack of recognition of the knowledge of the elders in university courses
- the need for pathways to allow students to study a language from primary to tertiary level
- need to increase opportunity and access to existing courses (eg through cross-institutional credit)
- need to network more with people involved in teaching Indigenous languages
- bureaucratic barriers such as funding, red tape issues at institutional level
Some of the principles that emerged from the day’s discussion were that all Indigenous language courses need to
- be community-led
- develop useful outputs
- include skills transfer
- promote Aboriginal cultural values
The discussion continues about the role of academic linguists and community linguists in meeting the needs and overcoming the barriers.