The community language maps are part of workshop activities that the KLRC have done with various groups of people.

  1. AIEOs in schools who are there to support non-Aboriginal teachers with English literacy outcomes for the students (KDEO)
  2. Aboriginal LOTE teachers in schools who are delivering language programs (AISWA)
  3. Playgroup workers

The communities and towns who have been involved in these activities are:
Fitzroy Crossing and communities, Halls Creek and communities, Bayulu, Yiyili, Noonkanbah, Milijidee, Balgo, Mulan, Billiluna, Mt Barnett, Frog Hollow, Jarlmadangah, Ngalipita, Looma, Pilbara communities

These groups of people are able to contribute personal knowledge of their communities and the languages they know are spoken in their communities.

One potential target group for the KLRC is non-Aboriginal classroom teachers. While they cannot contribute the information presented in these maps, the exercise will highlight what they do and don’t know about language. By carrying out the activity in sessions with AIEOs from their schools it may strengthen the classroom relationship, as the non-Aboriginal teachers may begin to use the AIEOs knowledge of community and language more effectively.

Classroom teachers are responsible for the English language and literacy outcomes of Aboriginal children, and without an understanding of the very complex language situation for the children they teach they may be fighting a losing battle to achieve English literacy outcomes. This kind of information should be part of their knowledge base for effective teaching in the classroom.

The purpose of the activity is to represent the very complicated language situation in the Kimberley. This is particularly relevant to younger children who are part of, or about to enter, the Western education system.

© 2011 Kimberley Language Resource Centre

The following are outcomes from the activities with the groups mentioned above

  1. People can see that even if only one language is spoken directly with children, they are hearing many different languages around them.
  2. While English is spoken in towns and communities the children do not engage very much with English speakers except at school. [This is something non-Aboriginal teachers need to know, because they often think that in towns like Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek children are talking lots of English outside school because there are more English speakers in towns.]
  3. In remote communities, children may not ever be asked to speak English outside of the school. [Television and film doesn’t have as much influence as people think, because the children do not actually communicate or write in English, they just hear it. Also they are hearing many different types of English.]
  4. Because many languages are spoken, Kriol dialects are used in communities across the Kimberley as a method of communication between adults and children. Children are hearing Kriol more than anything, which is why they are more often than not first language Kriol speakers (or Aboriginal English speakers). This activity also helps explain the different Kriol dialects.
  5. People begin to understand why they may fight a losing battle with traditional languages in the schools. They are competing with a complex language situation in the communities. Maintenance of languages needs to begin at home. People begin to see the importance of bush trips and other activities where children interact with language speakers in real life contexts. For 80% of the schools the KLRC works with there is not enough real life language in the classroom for the children to learn how to speak it.
  6. Groups begin to understand why languages like Kukatja are still spoken by children as a first language. It is the majority language spoken in places like Balgo, Mulan and Billiluna because it is the main language input the children get.
  7. People begin to see why language input before the children enter school can provide them with a traditional language as a first language (maybe bilingual with Kriol). Many Pilbara communities have children who speak a traditional language as their first language before entering school. Kriol is not spoken widely in the Pilbara, so children are hearing much more traditional language before school.
  8. In communities where there are two or three traditional languages spoken (such as Nyikina, Walmajarri and Mangala in communities like Jarlmadangah) people are noticing that children may speak a mixed language. This is a natural consequence of the children hearing so many different languages and this activity helps explain that. Raising awareness of this means language speakers can try and speak the languages directly to children so that they start to distinguish between them.
  9. This activity also helps people understand what Kriol is. The community language maps reflect a similar situation for Aboriginal people at the time of colonisation and help people see that English was a language thrown into the mix which influenced parts of Kriol (rather than Kriol being ‘badly learned’ English as many people think). Kriol is a changing and developing language even now, for the same reasons.
  10. English literacy outcomes are hard to reach when the children do not speak English as a first language. This activity indicates that children do not get enough English input for the practice of putting sounds on the page to be a natural process for them. This is why the Kriol reading program started at Ngalipita is successful – it introduces children to reading through their own language and helps them make the step into English language reading, and then writing.
  11. Aboriginal people in the Kimberley are still multilingual despite the pressure of English on their languages.




KLRC Funding Bodies