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  5. Lessons learnt in 2006
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Lessons learnt in 2006

The three main topics are:

  • Community initiatives support the school program
  • Following protocols
  • Building a school-community team.

Community initiatives support the school program

In August 2004, the ‘Reconnecting to Ancestral Languages Workshop’ was held for people in Hillston and other surrounding communities. It provided a forum in which everyone could talk about their individual language experiences, voice their ideas or concerns, join in on language learning activities and talk about their aspirations for their languages in the future. They also gave advice to the Hillston community about the proposal for the school language program. Several community language workshops have been conducted with the Yathong Nature Reserve cultural camps, organised by the Aboriginal Field Officers employed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service in the region. The community wants these language activities, among many other things, to be ongoing and is planning future cultural camps.
— Lesley Woods, Community Linguist

Since early in 2006, Lesley Woods has been running a weekly Ngiyampaa night-class in Hillston. We meet in a room in the school. It is open to the whole community and provides adults with a chance to learn and practise Language skills. As an Aboriginal Languages teacher, it’s great for me to have this opportunity to build up my language skills.
— Natalie Parr, Aboriginal Languages Teacher

I have been attending the Ngiyampaa night-class in Hillston throughout 2006. I’ve always been fascinated by languages and grammar, especially Latin and French. I also studied a bit of Linguistics at university. I find Lesley’s Ngiyampaa classes so interesting. For example one activity we did was building sentences from the vocabulary and grammar we had been learning, and trying to translate each other’s sentences. We also sang a song. When we first started it was hard but as we went on we sounded much better.
— Naomi Raison, Head Teacher Humanities

Following protocols

Ideally you should teach the language of the country you’re on, since language and country are strongly connected in Aboriginal culture. But at the same time you’ve got to be realistic, you’ve got to look at who is living where, and what language skills and knowledge they have. I fully support the Hillston Central School program including Wiradjuri and Ngiyampaa. They are doing an important job of getting Aboriginal languages learned and taught, for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. It’s important that everyone has the opportunity to learn Aboriginal languages.
— Stan Grant Snr, Wiradjuri Language Expert

My qualifications and experience and language knowledge is mostly in Ngiyampaa but I have also looked at Wiradjuri materials. Ngiyampaa and Wiradjuri are languages which are closely related. Our community Aboriginal languages teachers are Wiradjuri and we incorporate both Ngiyampaa and Wiradjuri into our school program. We knew that it was correct protocol and important to discuss this with Stan Grant Snr, since he is a recognised Wiradjuri expert and is guided by the the Wiradjuri Elders Council. He has given his support to our program. I have also been working closely with Dr Tamsin Donaldson, a linguist at the Australian National University in Canberra. She has done a lot of work on Ngiyampaa over the decades, and has provided positive support to the school program.
— Lesley Woods, Community Linguist

Building a school-community team

I have really enjoyed all of the community language camps and the Board of Studies workshops this year. My partner and two children are also really interested in what I’m doing and they’re all picking up the language too.
— Natalie Parr, Aboriginal Languages Teacher

The language workshops have been awesome this year! When I told my grandad about them he said that he couldn’t wait til I learned all about it so that I could teach him!
— Zoe Kennedy, Community Member

We are a small team at Hillston, but we are all dedicated and willing to put in the time together to get the language program going. Meeting other school-community teams from other parts of NSW was one of the inspirational things in the Board of Studies workshops. We got to share ideas and learn from the experiences of other schools and languages. One of the positive unexpected outcomes of our work in Hillston this year has been that so many of the staff members in the school are interested in language in general and the language program for the school. The students’ interest is also growing, even though we haven’t actually started lessons in the school yet.
— Tammy Ecroyd, Teacher

Congratulations to the Hillston Central School Aboriginal Languages Team for all of their achievements in 2006, establishing strong foundations for the Language program. In 2007 they will pilot language classes for all primary students and will develop Units of Work and classroom materials for the program. They are also keen to support incorporation of Aboriginal perspectives throughout the school curriculum and plan language and cultural events that the school and community can enjoy together.

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