1—Introduce the unit with the idea that naming something is a powerful event
Note that this unit is written for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Teachers should activate students’ background and cultural knowledge and also take into account local cultural sensitivities and adjust the material accordingly.
As a class, view the opening scene of Barbekueria to introduce the concept of naming and language and relations between first and settler nations.
Pair or small-group activities: Online research, reading, listening and speaking
Students may have absorbed many Aboriginal words by living in Australia, but have they heard an Aboriginal language spoken? What does it mean to be able to speak in language? View a video in which an elder from the Kimberly (WA) talks about his life and relationship to place, in Karajarri language,with subtitles, in Language Stories — Mijil Mil Mia.
What does it mean to lose the ability to speak in language? Reviving local Aboriginal languages helps revitalise culture and strengthen Aboriginal identity. Read the following recounts from interviews with contemporary Aboriginal women, Rebekah Torrens and Evie Willie.
As an independent listening or reading activity, have students listen to or read the transcript of the ABC program Holding our Tongues, for the stories of three different Aboriginal nations whose languages were declared extinct last century, and are being brought back to life using the colonial historical record.
Online dictionaries and language resources, such as Dharug Dalung, Dharawal language and the Sydney Aboriginal Languages and Computing site, help to revitalise culture and strengthen Aboriginal identity. Depending on computer availability, students in pairs or groups explore, listen to and pronounce words using the Dharug Dalung website.
Other online Aboriginal language dictionaries include the Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay Dictionary (northern NSW) and Wagiman online dictionary (Northern Territory).The Aboriginal Languages of Australia website also has a great number of relevant links.