Primary teacher vacancy at Mäpuru Christian School

Check out this fantastic opportunity to work alongside Yolŋu and be at the forefront of bilingual education delivery in the Northern Territory.

Mäpuru Christian School has a teacher vacancy for the multi-age Primary class for the 2015 school year and beyond. This position is as a team member with co-teachers Roslyn Malngumba and Rebecca Gamadala. 

Teaching duties include leading the primary teaching team to deliver bi-litearcy (Djambarrapuyŋu and English) and numeracy programs through meaningful activities relevant to the Mäpuru context and aspirations and Mäpuru School Council for their children.

More info and full description here: pdfMapuru_2015_EALD_Primary_Vacancy.pdf

Direct Instruction for NT Schools

FOBL has collated some information and some questions for educators and community members about Direct Instruction, the program which Peter Chandler, the Northern Territory Minister for Education has announced will be implemented in 60 schools in the Northern Territory over the next three years. This is a direct result of recommendations from A Share in the Future - The Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory carried out by Mr Bruce Wilson and NT Education staff in 2013.

Funding for the Direct Instruction program will come from part of a $22 million grant from the Federal Government. An unknown amount of $22 million will go to the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy (CYAAA) to administer DI programs in the Northern Territory.

The operations of the three Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy (CYAAA) campuses (Hope Vale, Coen and Aurukun) are underpinned by an instructional model that organises curriculum and its delivery into three separate learning or knowledge domains: Class, Club and Culture. Club and Culture classes happen after normal school hours so the normal school day is taken up with the delivery of Direct Instruction for literacy, and a Direct Instruction program for numeracy called Elementary Maths Mastery.

It is not clear at this stage if it is just the Direct Instruction component (Class) that will be imported to the Northern Territory.

Direct Instruction is the approach used in these schools for classroom teaching of English literacy and numeracy. Currently the CYAAA Class, Club and Culture model is a pilot program. According to the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) Evaluation of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Initiative published in June 2013 DI could not be conclusively linked to improving student literacy or numeracy outcomes.

The following link takes you to the ACER Final Report - Evaluation of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy Initiative:

or from

Department of Education, Training and Employment

Two elements of the ACER Evaluation are pertinent to the NT: improved literacy and numeracy outcomes and student attendance.

The ACER Evaluation of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Initiative reports the following findings re:
Increased literacy and numeracy outcomes
The answers to the question,
What is the impact of the CYAAA Initiative on student learning in the pilot communities? are:
It is not possible to conclude from the available test data, except in limited circumstances, whether or not the CYAAA Initiative has had an impact on student learning. This is because there is too much missing information to draw a conclusion, one way or the other.
Typically, the school staff describe improvements in student learning and attribute these improvements to the CYAAA Initiative.
School staff report that the rate of improvement has been greater in literacy than in numeracy.

It is too soon to tell if Club or Culture or both is having an impact on student learning.

Because the evaluation was unable to use the test data, it became difficult to empirically ascribe a causal connection between the Initiative and student learning outcomes. That said, it needs to be acknowledged that school and community members provided a wide range of anecdotal evidence that suggests there is such a connection and that the Initiative is indeed having a positive impact on student outcomes. (Australian Council for Educational Research. June 2013. Evaluation of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Initiative. Department of Education Training and Employment: Queensland. P 9.)

Student Attendance

On the burning issue of student attendance the ACER report did have conclusive findings:

It was found that the CYAAA Initiative project outcome related to student attendance has not been met. Student attendance has declined in two campuses during the period of the CYAAA Initiative despite the perception by many stakeholders that is has increased. This discrepancy between the ACER findings and the perceptions of informants may be explained in part by more stringent roll marking procedures implemented by CYAAA. Despite the declines in attendance, the attendance rates for Aurukun, which increased markedly ay the inception of the Cape York Welfare Reforms ( prior to the CYAAA), have not returned to the low levels experienced prior to the welfare reform trial. (Australian Council for Educational Research. June 2013. Evaluation of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Initiative. Department of Education Training and Employment: Queensland. P. 10.)

Why is the Federal government funding millions of dollars to the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy to run programs with such limited results in the Northern Territory?

Where is the evidence to show that the use of one specific literacy program is effective as opposed to properly resourced bilingual programs which include English programs written specifically for students who speak English as a Second Language?

'Direct Instruction is not a solution for Australian schools' by Allan Luke in the Australian Association for Research in Education BLOG

We have included an evaluation of the Direct Instruction program by Professor Allan Luke published on the Australian Association for Research in Education's (AARE) blog site because we believe he is eminently qualified to evaluate language programs (see Bio below).

Languages in Education Seminar



Language Landscape


We are pleased to announce the launch of Language Landscape 

a language mapping website which enables everyone everywhere to map their language. Users of the site can upload recordings and pin them on the map where they happened. Each contribution helps us to build a better picture of where languages are really spoken around the world. Our aim is to provide a collaborative online environment where linguists and native speakers can work together to create useful and interesting maps which document the diversity of oral cultures and their geographic spread. We hope that the website will also contribute to greater awareness of language diversity and its precarious future in the public mind.

We are actively seeking contributions from researchers and native speakers, in particular recordings of smaller/endangered languages; recordings of minority languages in countries which have a large monolingual majority; recordings which document multilingualism on an individual or societal level, and groups of recordings made across a geographical area which document language variation. Please contribute your recordings and help us to grow!

With further funding/investment we plan to translate the site into other languages, develop a dedicated mobile app which will make it even easier to create and map recordings using a single mobile device, and gamify the upload process to encourage more contributions from non-specialists and young people.

We welcome feedback and suggestions for improvement of the site, please send us your thoughts at

To visit our website, please go to:



Some postings from other websites and resources that support bilingual learning

Some vital signs for Aboriginal languages 

from the website THE CONVERSATION, written by Michael Christie, Brian Devlin and Cathy Bow.


Will Aboriginal languages still have a role in school learning?

Current NT Government policies do not appear to favour the use of Indigenous languages in the classroom, but the Australian Research Council has recently agreed to fund a second stage of the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages





Responses to the DRAFT report of the Indigenous Education Review for the Northern Territory Government

Some of the responses to the DRAFT report of the Indigenous Education Review will be available to read on the FOBL website. FOBL encourages you to share these responses with people who are involved in Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory and beyond.

Thank you


NT News report on Education Minister Chandler's visit to Queensland to view an approach used in some schools call Direct Instruction.

pdfDirect Instruction- Effective for What and for Whom?

The DRAFT Report of the Indigenous Education Review by Bruce Wilson, The Education Business for the Northern Territory Government 

FOBL response to the DRAFT Report of the Indigenous Education Review

Letter to FOBL from Minister for Education, December 2012

pdf100 Union (AEUNT) and 60 community members' response to the Draft Report of the the Indigenous Education Review for the Northern Territory Government

Ninti One: Innovation for remote Australia, response to the Draft Report of theReview of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory

pdfP Gibbons, response to the DRAFT Report of the Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory

docxYirrkala Sub-branch, Australian Education Union (NT) response to the Draft Report of the Indigenous Education Review for the Northern Territory Government

docxK Heugh, response to the Draft Report of the Indigenous Education Review for the Northern Territory Government

pdfAuSIL response to the DRAFT Report of the Indigenous Education Review

Indigenous Languages in Education: What the research shows, C.E. Grimes, AuSIL, 2009

Multilingual Education

pdfB Devlin, Charles Darwin University, response to the DRAFT Report of the Indigenous Education Review

pdfM Laughren, response to the DRAFT Report of the Indigenous Education Review

pdfL J White, response to the DRAFT Report of the Indigenous Education Review

pdfR Watt, response to the DRAFT Report of the Indigenous Education Review

pdfT Stockley, response to the DRAFT Report of the Indigenous Education Review

 National Indigenous Languages Survey 2, 2014, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

National Indigenous Languages Survey 2 NILS2

Indigenous languages link to health and well-being. Accessed from AIATSIS Website 7 March 2014 -

Results of the National Indigenous Languages Survey 2 (NILS 2) released today, paint a complex picture of the current state of health of Indigenous languages in Australia, but also show a growing recognition of their value as elements of identity and self-esteem.

Download The Full Report

The survey, funded by the Ministry for the Arts, Attorney-General's Department through the Indigenous Languages Support program, is the second such undertaking by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), who engaged with language organisations and individuals to garner information on two key areas – language activities and language attitudes.
AIATSIS Chair Professor Mick Dodson said the complicated picture produced by the results showed the continuing trend of increased language loss across the country.
"From the information collected we estimate there's around 120 Indigenous languages still spoken today – a drop from 145 in 2005," Professor Dodson said.
"But at the same time, languages such as Wiradjuri from central western New South Wales are being revived and are now taught to children in local schools. This positive outcome clearly indicates the need for federal, state and territory governments to allocate funding for the development and delivery of programs to train language workers, interpreters and teachers."
Respondents to the survey held an almost unanimous view that connecting with and learning about language has a powerfully beneficial effect on people's well-being.
Dr Jakelin Troy, Director of Research in Indigenous Social and Cultural Wellbeing at AIATSIS, said there is a growing recognition of the value of Australia's Indigenous languages not only for communication, but also to strengthen identity and self-esteem.
"Languages are central to our identity, and remaining connected with them is critical to our well-being. Our recommendation is that further research into the connection between language and well-being is absolutely necessary," Dr Troy said.
"The report strongly suggests our languages be recognised in the Australian Constitution as the first languages of Australia and promoted as a fundamental part of the unique heritage of our country. Governments and language advocacy groups should promote the importance of using our languages at home – especially with children.
"Survey respondents want their languages taught in schools because it is clear that this helps students succeed – they were united in saying they want their languages to be strong well into the future."
AIATSIS is world-renowned as the premier research, collecting and publishing organisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, traditions, languages and stories. It is internationally recognised as a leader in setting ethical standards and practices for Australian Indigenous research, publishing, language revival, cultural collection management and access protocols.

Download The Full Report (741 KB) -

DRAFT Report of the Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory


The Draft Report of the Review of  Indigenous Education Review in the Northern Report was released by Bruce Wilson, The Education Business on the 7 February 2014.

The review has already sparked criticism, consultations are currently in progress. The dates and places are as follows:


Click on this website to view the report

For further information, several blogposts provide further comments regarding the report:

A link to Bruce Wilson- the author of the review,  on ABC Radio National Life Matters:

     Bruce Wilson Interview in Alice Springs

      ABC Darwin local radio with Vicki Kerrigan:

That Munanga Linguist:

Combatting School Injustice:

Language blog: and,

Alice Springs News Online - Article followed by comments regarding the  DRAFT Report of the Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory


Australia is the place of vanishing languages

A dictionary of two central Australian languages was recently discovered at the State Library of New South Wales.

More needs to be done to protect Indigenous languages and the culture and heritage they represent, writes Chris Raja.
Recently, at the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney University's Dr Michael Walsh made a significant discovery. In boxes of unpublished papers he unearthed a 125-page dictionary of two central Australian languages – Arrarnta and Luritja – compiled by German missionary Carl Strehlow.
Walsh has been working with Ronald Briggs, the Indigenous services librarian at the State Library, investigating the languages used among Indigenous Australians.

Vanishing languages
When I read a news report of Walsh's find, I immediately told my Western Arrarnta friends. No-one in the community was aware of the discovery, but they all were in agreement that these important Western Arrarnta word lists should make their way back to central Australia. At the least, they would like to see the box and its contents.
The find got me thinking about my own culture, language and heritage. I was born in Calcutta and love to hear Bengali spoken. I am proud of filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, who made films in his local vernacular that the entire world grew to love. I appreciate the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore.
Due to various circumstances, I cannot speak or read Bengali and this disconnects me from the place of my birth. I dream I am in the arms of Kali attempting to cut the mother's tongue out. Sure, I still know some Hindi, but that too is being erased from my memory with time and distance.
I wonder what my Australian children will make of my old country? Are we Australian forever now? Or, will they too one day like to learn the language and more of the culture of their father's place of birth? Or will they choose to learn one of the many Indigenous languages that surround them in the Northern Territory?
I know I need to - and long to - celebrate more films, books, articles and plays in a variety of languages. Language defines a group of people. It is the voice of culture and heritage. Nothing is possible without language.
The definition of cultural heritage can vary. It can be physical – such as that contained in culturally-significant buildings, landscapes and artefacts – or intangible, contained in language, music, movies and customs, festivals, and food.
But it's not just old things, pretty things, or physical things. Cultural heritage involves strong human emotions. The role language, culture and heritage plays in a person's life and community cannot be underestimated. Culture is the basis of all social identity and development, and cultural heritage is the legacy that each generation receives and passes on. In a sense, it is what makes us human.
There are other considerations, such as what happens to a culture that is brought so low that its language is taken from it. Once you take away a nation's language, you take away its soul. Once language is lost, people are forced to think and see the world differently. They lose their mother tongue.
In the past, before colonisation, the First Australian languages and dialects were spoken. But later, even well into the 1960s, children were punished for speaking their own languages in schools in various parts of Australia. Former prime minister Gough Whitlam introduced bilingual education in schools in Australia in December 1972. But in 2008, the NT Government announced that school programs were to be taught only in English for the first four hours of every school day. The policy was replaced with a new policy in 2012, which stated that home and local languages "can and should be used where appropriate to support the learning and acquisition of concepts."
The Four Hours In English policy had disastrous consequences. Languages are in threat of dying out. Australia is the place of vanishing languages. The truth is that the West, and in particular the English language, has run over most other languages and cultures like a semitrailer truck. It has been nothing short of devastating.
Recognising, respecting and celebrating languages, diversity and cultural heritage is integral to healthy, harmonious relationships. Cultural heritage is not static. Culture and language changes over time and approaches need to be dynamic and adaptive. Effective cultural heritage management can have wide economic, social and environmental benefits.
So what place is there for Australian Indigenous languages? And should we care for languages that have a thousand or a hundred or so speakers left? Is it a terrible tragedy that most Aboriginal Australian languages are dead and will never be heard again? Is it okay that we are not terribly worried about that? How are we to ensure the vitality and the ongoing viability of the languages we still do have?
We need to create more content in Australian Indigenous languages. Encourage more language centres and active language speakers. Support the right people with administrative and technological help. By doing these things, we will be helping tourism, young rangers, health workers, teachers and students.
Put simply, culture, language and heritage matter. The fact is schools in the Northern Territory where I live have, for the last ten years, overlooked the importance of Australian Indigenous languages and cross-generational learning.
I have witnessed first hand how little importance we have placed on Australian Indigenous languages even though bilingualism is a gift for us as a nation. The same could probably be said for the United States or Canada.
I wonder how many Indigenous language groups are known or could be named by the majority of Australians? I look forward to the day a prime minister of this country can speak one of the many Australian Indigenous languages. Now that would be something.
We need to celebrate the multilingual diversity of Australia, especially amongst its first people. Instead of devaluing the fact that this nation's first people can speak several languages, can we respect two-way learning? Let's cherish the wealth and wonder of people who still know these old, rare languages and stories that we have tried so hard to eradicate.

by Christopher Raja, an Alice Springs-based writer. 
First posted November 19, 2013 14:35:04

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Languages of the Top End


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