Languages of Communication : Indigenous language and/or English?

Exley, Beryl E. (2012) Languages of Communication : Indigenous language and/or English? In Tamata, Apolonia (Ed.) ‘Literacy in Vernacular Languages’ Symposium,, August 23, 2012., Fiji National University of Education, Nadi, Fiji. (In Press)


My interest in producing this paper on Indigenous languages was borne out of conversations with and learnings from community members in the Torres Straits and those connected to the ‘Dream Circle’. Nakata (2003, p. 12) laments the situation whereby ‘teachers are transitionary and take their hard-earned knowledge with them when they leave’. I am thus responding to the call to add to the conversation in a productive albeit culturally loaded way. To re-iterate, I am neither Indigenous nor am I experienced in teaching and learning in these contexts. As problematic as these two points are, I am in many ways typical of the raft of inexperienced white Australian teachers assigned to positions in school contexts where Indigenous students are enrolled or in mainstream contexts with substantial populations of Indigenous students. By penning this article, it is neither my intention to contribute to the silencing of Indigenous educators or Indigenous communities. My intention is to articulate my teacherly reflections as they apply to the topic under discussion.

The remainder of this paper is presented in three sections. The next section provides a brief overview of the number of Indigenous people and Indigenous languages in Australia and the role of English as a language of communication. The section which follows draws on theorisations from second/additional language acquisition to overview three different schools of thought about the consequences of English in the lives of Indigenous Australians. The paper concludes by considering the tensions for inexperienced white Australian teachers caught up in the fray.

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ID Code: 53571
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: Indigenous language, Indigenous vernacular, Aboriginal Englishy, Politics of language, Politics of English
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > OTHER EDUCATION (139900) > Education not elsewhere classified (139999)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Past > Schools > School of Cultural & Language Studies in Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 (please consult the author).
Deposited On: 12 Sep 2012 03:04
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2012 04:37

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