Notes from language programs video conference held Friday, April 2020.

First Languages Australia and the Pertame Language Project invited people to participate in a video conference to connect, hear and learn from each other about creative ways we can continue our language teaching through digital platforms. COVID-19 presents a huge threat to our old people, who often are the sole holders of our precious language knowledge. Keeping our old people safe is the number one priority. How can we also make the most of this extra time many of us have to learn and teach our languages?

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The below participants shared the different ways they are planning to continue teaching First language knowledge while isolated. We also acknowledge that for many Indigenous language groups, internet connection with technical support is not a viable option and we are keen to hear from people about the support they need to continue work in these difficult times.


Faith Baisden - First Languages Australia

Vanessa Farrelly - Pertame Language School


Vanessa Farrelly - Pertame Language School

Master-Apprentice group classes via skype.

The apprentice group have stopped their daily in-person discussion. Instead, they have begun joining a Zoom call and using picture stimulus compiled in PowerPoint to ask their Master to share information about the images. They are also making short videos of themselves narrating everyday tasks and sharing them to encourage others in the group to describe their movements throughout the day.

Self-narration example for washing hands:

Kate Charlwood  - Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring

Mirima‚Äôs teaching staff have returned to their communities but wish to continue working for the language centre remotely. In response, the language centre has created workbooks with language tasks so that teaching staff can continue studying, learning and teaching Miriwoong. Instead of teaching in classes to students at this stage, where appropriate, they are teaching someone in their home. About two months' worth of paper worksheets were printed and given to the teachers before they went home. The worksheets include a broad range of activities from picture stimulus to grammar analysis. The Language Nestcoordinator calls each of the teachers daily (where possible given reception) to check-in. The centre is also exploring how they will continue to deliver their language classes in schools through Term 2.

Cathy Bow - Digital Language Shell

In 2019 the Digital Language Shell was used to deliver the first online Bininj Kunwok course, through Charles Darwin University and the Australian National University. The Shell was set up to support Indigenous people to share their language and culture online under Indigenous authority. It is available for use by others. It is a Wordpress site that can be adapted to manage and share resources, categorised in the way the community finds most useful.

Aaron Ellis - Wiradjuri Language teacher

Aaron uses Instagram and Twitter to increase his language knowledge and use by sharing five new words each #WiradjuriWednesday. His Wiradjuri students are also using Quizlet to make activities that support their learning.

Hayley Bushell and David Nathan - Groote Eylandt Language Centre 

Groote Eylandt Language Centre have been running lessons at Angurugu School with a primary 3-7 class. They have been running lessons which incorporate digital technologies (Scratch Jr) and Aninidilyakwa language lessons. We have been using Scratch Jr, which is a coding software on the Ipads. Providing digital versions of workbooks, flashcards and worksheets to the teachers has been a focus of the past few weeks.

We have implemented new initiatives for local community radio, with a dedicated, daily radio show for corona-virus information and discussion in Anindilyakwa and English. This will also soon be available as podcasts. (The radios were supplied to households to complement that initiative.)

Angela Harrison - Centre for Aboriginal Languages and Linguistics

Ange and Kumalie Reily have been co-teaching a remote Arrernte class for Charles Darwin University. They use a tool called Learnline, which is working quite well.  The trick now is to work out how to co-teach when they are in different locations. As part of the course, there are a series of Kahoots have been made and are useful.

David Moore - Alice Springs Language Centre 

Aboriginal language teachers are working with students of the Cert 2 and 3 in Applied language learning which has been developed by the centre. The school-based VET program takes students through school into language careers (teachers, interpreters, media, etc.). Crystal-Rose Furber-Swan is a trainee teacher with the school who has been through the program. Earlier in the year, the course transferred to Google Classroom, which helps the students and teachers manage the course work, assignments and assessment. This means that the course is now paper-free, and students with internet access can continue. One assignment in the Cert 2 is making a Kahoot game in their language, so there are now about 20 Arrernte Kahoot listings available to use by others.


The meeting can be watched in full here.


Kaitlyn Lodewikus - Young Champion

Callum Clayton Dixon - Anaiwan preschool teacher

Lynnette Ackland - Far West Language Centre 

Angela Harrison - Batchelor, Central Australia

Karen Hayward and Tanya Jones - Papulu Apparr-kari

Crystal-Rose Furber-Swan, David Moore and Susan Moore- Alice Springs Language Centre 

Lola Jones and Coleen Sherratt - WA Department of Education (Aboriginal Language Teacher Trainers)

Aaron Ellis - Wiradjuri Language teacher

Kate Charlwood  and Brandan Wiltshire - Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring

Cathy Bow- Digital Language Shell

Hayley Bushell, Helen Bond-Sharp and David Nathan - Groote Eyland Language Centre 

Vanessa Farrelly - Pertame Language School

Faith Baisden, Annalee Pope and Carolyn Barker - First Languages Australia