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Aboriginal - Communities in N.T.- Bilingual education in schools in Aboriginal communities in Northern Territory - Report and recommendations of Advisory Group, March 1973

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1973— Parliamentary Paper No. 79





Presented by Command 15 March 1973

Ordered to be printed 29 March 1973



Printed by M ercury-W alch P ty Ltd, 5-7 Bowen R oad, M oonah, Tasm ania


Section 1 Rationale for bilingual education . . . . .



Section 2 Recommended models . . . . . . 10

Section 3 The initial implementation of a bilingual education program . 14

Section 4 Linguistic considerations affecting the choice of an Aboriginal language in a given community . . . . . 15

Section 5 Educational considerations in devising and implementing the program . . . . . . . . . 25

Section 6 Essential supporting services . . . . . . 36

Section 7 Schools recommended for the inauguration of bilingual education in 1973 ...................................................................................... 38

Appendix A The Pre-School Curriculum . . . . . . 41

Appendix B The Infants’ School Curriculum . . . . . 43


The Advisory Group on teaching in Aboriginal languages in schools in Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory, which was established at the request of the Minister for Education, the Honourable Kim E. Beazley, MP., convened in Darwin on 22 January, 1973. The members of this Group were Dr Betty H.

Watts, Reader in Education, University of Queensland, Mr W. J. McGrath, Inspector of Schools, Aboriginal Education Branch, and Mr J. L. Tandy, Department of Education, Canberra.

The Group’s task was to examine the nature and extent of the resources available and in the light of its findings to make recommendations for the implementation and development of a program involving teaching in Aboriginal languages and the incorporation in the school curriculum of further elements of traditional Aboriginal arts, crafts and skills.

During the three weeks which the Group had available for this investigation, discussions were held in Darwin and Alice Springs with senior administrative and professional officers, teachers, linguists and others experienced in Aboriginal affairs. Visits were made to Angurugu, Maningrida, Goulburn Island, Areyonga

and Hermannsburg for further discussions with Mission and Settlement officers, resident linguists and Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal teaching staffs — and, very importantly, these visits enabled the Group to discuss the matter with many Aboriginal people, collectively at public meetings or meetings of Village, Town

or School Councils and individually at their homes.

The Group spent at least two days on each of these visits, giving the people time to absorb the idea and talk it over among themselves. This was appreciated, as was the fact that the Group was most careful not in any way to hurry them towards a decision as to whether they would like to have an Aboriginal language

used in the School and, if so, which one. In every instance the Group was most courteously received and listened to very carefully. It was plainly a subject of great interest to all of the communities visited.

As a result of these discussions and of study of the relevant literature the Group’s thinking has firmed towards a bilingual approach, and it is an approach of this kind which is described and recommended in the following pages. It is the Group’s experience that this is the approach which makes most sense, not only

to the educationists and linguists but also to the Aboriginal people themselves.

The Group’s investigations were carried out at a particularly inconvenient time of year for the Director of Aboriginal Education and his staff. With the schools opening on 5 February they were in the midst of the many problems associated with allocation of teaching staff and actually getting the teachers and their families to their remote locations during a period of cyclonic disturbances

in the Top End and flood conditions in the Centre. Despite this, the Director released one of his Inspectors of Schools to serve full-time on the Advisory Group and both he and his professional staff spared no effort to advise and assist the Group in every possible way.

In the course of its investigations the Group came to form a very high opinion of the ability, enthusiasm and initiative of these people and has every confidence of the success of the proposed program provided their efforts are backed up by the necessary supporting services.



1.1 The Advisory Group believes that the educational program pursued at present in schools in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, with English as the language of instruction together with variable use of the Aboriginal languages in the classrooms, and with English as the language in which literacy is

sought, has achieved success for a significant number of Aboriginal children. At the same time it believes that a majority of the children have faced marked difficulties in their educational progress. It holds the view that the optimal educational, cultural and social development of the Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory can best be fostered through the institution of a program of bilingual education. In making the following recommendations, it has adopted the definition of bilingual education formulated by the United States in framing

its Bilingual Education Act (Title VII ESEA): Bilingual education is the use of two languages, one of which is English, as mediums of instruction for the same pupil population in a well-organised program which

encompasses part or all of the curriculum and includes the study o f the history and culture associated with the m other tongue. A complete program develops and

m aintains the children’s self-esteem and a legitimate pride in both cultures.

Recognition of and respect for the languages and culture of the Aboriginal people 1.2 The educational program in a school serving an Aboriginal community should recognise and respect the language/s and culture of that community.

1.2.1 The school should be the agent of cultural continuity rather than of cultural discontinuity, with the non-Aboriginal Australian culture being introduced in a manner acceptable to the people.

1.2.2 The school should help to foster the children’s pride in their ethnic identity and aid their development of favourable self-concepts.

1.2.3 The school, through its teaching personnel, should offer the children effective and acceptable models from within their own ethnic group.

1.2.4 The school program should be developed and implemented in such a way that the adults of the community feel an involvement in and responsibility for the education of their children.

1.2.5 The above goals can be achieved only when the language of the community is an integral part of the school program.

Language for initial literacy

1.3 The child’s first language should, in general, be the language in which initial literacy is developed.

1.3.1 The psychological meaningfulness of the reading process is more easily established through the normal range of reading readiness activities when the child’s first language is used.

1.3.2 Oral fluency in the language is an essential pre-requisite for success in reading; at present limited fluency in English creates marked difficulties for many children when initial literacy is required in that language.



1.3.3 Motivation is likely to be higher when greater meaningfulness and interest are secured through the use of the child’s first language.

1.3.4 The decoding process in the Aboriginal languages is rendered simpler and easier than in English since linguists recording the former have achieved a marked regularity of phoneme/grapheme correspondence; this is in contrast to the written English language.

1.3.5 Overseas programs (particularly those conducted by the Summer Institute of Linguistics) suggest that, once literacy skills have been established in the child’s first language, transfer of the skills to the reading and writing of a second language is less difficult than the child’s accomplishment of initial literacy in the second language.

The need for subsequent literacy in English 1.4 Once literacy skills have been established in the child’s first language, it is essential that he become literate in English also.

1.4.1 The Aboriginal people to whom the Advisory Group has spoken have expressed a strong concern that their children become literate in English.

1.4.2 The social and economic well-being of the Aboriginal people is dependent, in part, upon literacy in English.

1.4.3 The cultural well-being of the people, particularly in relation to their interaction with non-Aboriginal and other Aboriginal Australians and in relation to their continuing development of their own culture, within a nation-wide and world-wide framework requires literacy in English.

1.4.4 The optimal educational development of the children cannot be secured through the medium of Aboriginal languages only; the full range of resources for such development cannot be adequately translated.

The need for the continued study of Aboriginal languages 1.5 Once initial literacy has been secured in the child’s first language there is need for him to continue the study of that language, so that: he may master the full richness of that language;

his cognitive development may be fully fostered; he may achieve increasing satisfaction through expression in the oral and written forms of that language; he may contribute to an emerging literature in that language.

The language of instruction in the early years 1.6 At present, the curriculum of early education is implemented in English; in many schools some use is made of an Aboriginal language to assist children.

1.6.1 This must place a too-heavy burden on many children in their attempts at learning. For many, their grasp of English, both receptive and expressive, is extremely limited and for them the teaching-learning situation is inefficient and stress-provoking.

1.6.2 The security and well-being of the children would be enhanced if the language of the classroom were the familiar language of the home and the community.


1.6.3 This increased sense of security would, in addition to the contribution it makes to the personal development of the children, also foster higher motivation and more efficient learning.

1.6.4 Included in the objectives of the early education program are psycho- linguistic development, cognitive development and the development of a store of early fundamental concepts. The degree to which later educational goals can be

achieved is determined in part by the success in meeting these early objectives. Optimal psycholinguistic and cognitive development will be fostered if the language of instruction is the child’s first language; the use of English as the language of instruction when the children have only an imprecise and imperfect grasp of

this language is a major inhibiting force in their cognitive development.

The languages of instruction in later years of the program

1.7 When the children have: achieved early educational goals through the medium of their own language, achieved a degree of fluency (receptive and expressive) in oral English, and moved towards literacy in English. both the Aboriginal language and English should be used as the languages of

instruction, each being used in its appropriate place.

1.7.1 The Aboriginal language would remain as the appropriate language for Language Arts in that language and for Aboriginal Studies (conducted sometimes by Aboriginal members of the teaching team and sometimes by Aboriginal adults

from the community). In other areas of the curriculum, at certain stages, the Aboriginal language may also prove to be the more appropriate language of instruction.

1.7.2 There would be a gradual transition, probably beginning in the last year of the Infants’ School, to English as the language of instruction. Throughout the middle years of schooling, English would gradually become the language of instruction for areas of the curriculum other than those mentioned in 1.7.1. It would be impossible to reproduce in the Aboriginal languages the whole existing range of literature and resources in all the content areas of the curriculum. English would be the more appropriate language for some curriculum areas because of their conceptual content and orientation. For effective community living, operational efficiency in English is a pre-requisite. The use of English as the language of instruction when the children have attained fluency in this language will aid the achievement of operational efficiency. The goal of the bilingual program is that children will

achieve maximum fluency and command in both languages. At present and in the foreseeable future in most communities, the schools will provide the major setting for the meaningful exercise and development of English.




2.1 The models presented in this section are derived from considerations of: the Aboriginal cultures and their location within the wider Australian context; educational, psychological and linguistic principles; the availability of the teaching teams consisting of both Aboriginal and non­ Aboriginal members;

overseas research and development projects.

2.2 A model appropriate for schools in which there is a single Aboriginal language acceptable to the community and where that language has been analysed and recorded by linguists.

2.2.1 The principles incorporated in this model include the following: The language of instruction in the early years will be the Aboriginal language, with those aspects of the present English language environment being retained where appropriate. During these early years, English, in its oral form only, will be taught as a second language. Initially learning situations will be informal and unstructured; gradually there will be a transition to more formal and structured learning situations when there will be concentration on the units of language as well as more informal approaches. Literacy will be established first in the Aboriginal language. When the children have mastered literacy skills in the Aboriginal language and when they have achieved a sufficient command of oral English, literacy in English will be commenced. As oral fluency and literacy in English are established there will be a gradual transition to English as the language of instruction for many areas of the curriculum. Language Arts in the Aboriginal language will be continued throughout the entire school program. Aboriginal Studies in those areas of Aboriginal culture approved by the community, for those age groups and sex groups approved by the community, will be conducted in the Aboriginal language. Each of the two languages, Aboriginal and English, will be presented only by native speakers of the language.

2.2.2 The timetable presented in the above model must be interpreted as a flexible timetable. The sequences can be determined in advance, but the timing of the achievement of the successive stages cannot, at this point, be predicted.

2.3 A model appropriate for schools in which the accepted Aboriginal language has not been analysed and recorded by linguists.

2.3.1 It seems possible that at least some Aboriginal communities where there has been little or incomplete linguistic analysis will express a desire for their language to be used in the school.

2.3.2 In such cases it would be possible to offer a modified bilingual program which would enhance the early learning and cognitive development and psychological security of the children.


Model I— A bilingual education program in schools where there is a single Aboriginal language acceptable to the community and where linguistic analysis and recording of that language have been completed


Aboriginal Language

Other aspects of

Arts and Aboriginal Studies Rost-Primary Curriculum


Aboriginal Language Arts and Aboriginal


Other_as pects of _

Primary Curriculum

Language Arts in Aboriginal Language Language Arts in English ( a )


Continued Literacy in A. L. «·*>» S h




of Literacy in Aboriginal Language




(а) Gradual transition to English as the language of instruction. (б) There will be individual differences in timing of transition from literacy in Aboriginal language to literacy in English.

Note: Dotted lines indicate notional years of schooling

I'—™ — a Aboriginal Language

| " I English


Model II— A bilingual education program in schools in which the accepted Aboriginal language has not been analysed and recorded by linguists


Oral Other aspects of

— Aboriginal - B Language Arts and Post Primary Curriculum

— Aboriginal - Studies


Oral Aboriginal Language Arts and Aboriginal. Studies

Other aspects ot

Primary Curriculum


Transition to English as Language of Instruction

Establishment of literacy in English



Oral English

Oral English


0 E ral nglish

Π " 1



Note: Dotted lines indicate notional years of schooling


2.3.3 In the development of such a modified program, the following are offered as guidelines: The language of instruction in the early years will be the Aboriginal language, with aspects of the present English language environments being retained where appropriate. During these early years, English, in its oral form only, will be taught as a second language. When the children have attained a sufficient command of oral English, literacy in English will be commenced. As oral fluency and literacy in English are established, there will be a gradual transition to English as the language of instruction for many areas of the curriculum. Oral language arts in the Aboriginal language will continue although to a more limited extent than in the first model. Aboriginal Studies in those areas of Aboriginal culture approved by the community, to approved age and sex groups, will be conducted in the Aboriginal language.

23.3.1 Each of the two languages, Aboriginal and English, will be presented only by native speakers of that language.

2.3.4 The major differences between Models I and II lie in the language of initial literacy, the somewhat greater concentration in Model II or Oral English and the earlier shift in Model II to English as a language of instruction. Schools must exercise care, however, that there is not too rapid an introduction to literacy in English or to English as the language of instruction. In the early years maximum use should be made of the Aboriginal language as a vehicle for cognitive and affective development; this is appropriate as most

aspects of the early infant program are best conducted through activity and oral language. If there is a premature use of English, the children will be educationally disadvantaged.

2.4 Other Models

2.4.1 The linguistic and social complexities of some multi-lingual Aboriginal communities are such that it could be expected that, in a given community, one Aboriginal language might not achieve universal acceptance.

2.4.2 The Advisory Group believes that an Aboriginal language should not be imposed on any group, especially when that group forms a minority group in the community.

2.4.3 In some cases, a minority language group, knowing that its own language has been analysed and recorded and that it is used as the language of the school in a community where it is a dominant language, might be willing for its children to learn in a different Aboriginal language. This would be educationally acceptable

since it is easier, due to linguistic factors, for a child to learn a second Aboriginal language than to learn English.

2.4.4 In some cases, however, it seems likely that such minority group children will have to be offered a full educational program in English. School organisation and policy must safeguard the wishes of these children’s parents.



3.1 The Advisory Group recommends that when a bilingual education program is introduced in a school, it be introduced in its full form only to the pre-school and First Year Infants’ class. The program will be fully implemented with these children and with later intakes as they advance through the school.

3.2 In pre-schools where major use is already made of the Aboriginal language, this will require a shift in emphasis and a more responsible role for the Aboriginal members of the teaching team, and a new role for the non-Aboriginal teaching team member.

3.3 In First Year Infants’ there will be major changes, both in respect to teaching in the Aboriginal language and development towards establishing literacy in the Aboriginal language; the roles of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members of the teaching team will change.

3.4 Where children have already undertaken one or two years of the school program it is judged inadvisable to disrupt the route of their educational progress. At the same time, where Aboriginal teaching personnel are available, there could well be an increase in the use of the Aboriginal language to promote the children’s educational development.

3.5 In higher grades, where children have an adequate mastery of literacy skills in English, it may in some schools be possible to introduce them to literacy in an Aboriginal language. This would be dependent upon the availability of materials in the language and, preferably, the help of a linguist on-site.

3.6 In communities where the Aboriginal people wish the older children to undertake Aboriginal Studies, and where they are willing to undertake respon­ sibility for this aspect of the program, the Aboriginal Studies component could be continued and expanded.



4.1 A survey by the Research Branch of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs shows there to be speakers of 138 Aboriginal languages and/or dialects in the Northern Territory. In only a few of the communities is a single language spoken. In some communities there is a very dominant language and in others, while a

dominant language exists, there are significant minorities of speakers of one or more languages. In yet other cases, there are two or more languages of equal or near-equal significance in terms of the size of the groups of speakers of those

languages. Finally, in some communities, including notably pastoral properties, a wide range of languages exists.

4.2 Thus the institution of a bilingual education program is not a simple matter. On linguistic and educational grounds, it is preferable for a child to begin his education and to establish literacy in his first language. This ideal may not be realisable in many communities because:

a diversity of languages is spoken, by groups varying in size; many of the languages have not been researched by linguists to the stage where literacy materials can be produced; not all of the language groups in any community have representatives among the Aboriginal teaching force;

school organisational issues limit the practicability of introducing a number of Aboriginal languages in the one school.

4.3 It must therefore be accepted that it is most unlikely that the idea of each child receiving his initial education and establishing initial literacy in his own first language can be achieved.

4.4 Nevertheless, a program of bilingual education can be mounted in many of the communities of the Northern Territory. In some of these programs, some Aboriginal children will need to use an Aboriginal language which is not their first language. The alternative for these children would be involvement in a totally English program.

4.4.1 In some, but not all of the communities, many of the minority language children will hear, if not speak, the dominant Aboriginal language by school entry.

4.4.2 In any case, on linguistic grounds, because of the greater similarities between Aboriginal languages than between an Aboriginal language and English, the use in the bilingual education program of a selected Aboriginal language

is preferable to a total education program in English.

4.5 In special circumstances, such as the existence of two major language groups, and where size of school permits, consideration might need to be given to the possibility of implementing the bilingual education program in two Aboriginal languages and English.

4.6 The final decision relating to choice of an Aboriginal language for the bilingual education program in a particular school cannot be made upon linguistic grounds. This decision is one which can be reached only by the Aboriginal people

of that community.



4.6.1 Visits should be made to communities to initiate discussions with the Aboriginal people. In these discussions relevant linguistic and educational issues should be clarified. Where possible, a linguist should assist in these discussions.

4.6.2 In some communities where the linguistic situation is extremely complex and where social relationships between language groups are of importance, it may take considerable time, with further visits and on-going discussions with the Head Teacher and linguist, before the community reaches a decision.

4.6.3 Where the community wishes to have in the school a language which has not been analysed by linguists, Model II would be appropriate for the bilingual education program.

4.7 Table I is presented to show some of the complexities of the language situation of the Northern Territory communities. The Advisory Group under­ stands that there will be available from the Research Section, in the relatively near future, a complete analysis which will show the size of each language group in each community.

4.7.1 Table I shows: communities where there is some likelihood that one Aboriginal language will be acceptable for school purposes; larger communities characterised by the existence of a number of language groups;

small communities characterised by the existence of a number of language groups; and communities with special language problems.

Required research 4.8 Further linguistic research is required at least to the point where all languages spoken by Aboriginal groups of significant size have been fully

analysed and recorded.

4.9 There is also urgent need for psycholinguistic research into Aboriginal children’s developmental acquisition of their language. The proper planning of educational programs requires: knowledge of the stages of psycholinguistic development of children at various

ages; knowledge of the levels of language mastery at various ages; knowledge of the children’s oral usage at school entry.

4.10 Furthermore, analyses of differences in conceptual styles and preferred cognitive strategies betwen Aborigines and non-Aboriginal Australians, conducted by psychologists, anthropologists and linguists, would provide very useful guide­ lines to educationists in their devising of bilingual education programs.

4.11 The Advisory Group recommends that the Commonwealth take special action to encourage further linguistic research in Aboriginal languages and also to encourage psycholinguistic scholars to undertake research activity along the lines indicated above.


Table 1 — Aboriginal languages and dialects in schools in Northern Territory Aboriginal communitiesfa)

A. Com m unities with a single language o r a language spoken by a significant majority and likely to be acceptable as the language of the school.

Location School

Population (30.6.72)

Languages Stage of

Linguistic analysis(b)


Bathurst Is. 260 Tiwi Linguistic S.I.L. linguists currently on

Snake Bay 78 Tiwi analysis furlough.

G arden Point 66 Tiwi not

404 completed

Angurugu 227 Anindilyaugwa Linguistic Linguist on site.

U m bakum ba 164 Anindilyaugwa analysis

391 completed

Herm annsburg 236 W estern A randa Linguistic

Santa Teresa 174 Southern A randa analysis Lutheran Field Superintendent

410 completed on site (Alice Springs).

Milingimbi 273 G upapuynu Linguistic Linguist on site. V ery close

D jam barrbuynu analysis linguistic similarity fo r Gupa-

Liyagalawum irr completed puynu, D jam barrbuynu,

Buyuyukululumirr Liyagalawum irr and Buyuyu-

(Liyagawumirr) kululumirr; this group con-

stitutes the significant majority

W ang urn in the community. T he last 5

W arram iri languages listed represent very

Djinan small minorities. The Milin-

Y ananu gimbi linguist believes that

N ay mil G upapuynu would probably

be acceptable to all members of the comm unity as the

language of the school.

(a) The inform ation in this table is the best obtainable by the G roup during the short period of its investigations.

(b) The linguistic analysis is listed as ‘completed’ where it was reported to the G roup the analysis has proceeded to the point where written m aterials for the bilingual education program could be produced.



Location School Languages

Population (30.6.72)

Stage of Linguistic Analysis


Oenpelli G unwinggu

+ related


Linguistic analysis completed

Port Keats 274 M urinbada

+ related


Linguistic analysis proceeding

Y uendumu 253 W albiri

Pintubi (

Linguistic analysis proceeding (S.I.L.) Linguistic analysis completed

The Pintubi form a very small m inority (5% ). Inform ation suggests that all the Pintubi

children speak W albiri and

that W albiri is likely to be

acceptable as the language of the school.

H ooker Creek 161 W albiri


Linguistic analysis proceeding (S.I.L.)

G oulbum Is. 63 Mating

G unwinggu G unbalang Gunawidji

1 Linguistic Γ analysis completed

Linguist on site. M aung

country. The people have ex­ pressed an acceptance of

M aung as the language of the school.

Areyonga 64 L u ritja/ 1

Pitjantjatjara |

(W.D.L.) A randa J

Linguistic analysis completed

The A randa form a small

minority. The people have ex­ pressed an acceptance of

Pitjantjatjara as the language of the school.

M t Ebenezer Pitjantjatjara


Linguistic analysis completed

Napperby 27 A nm atjira

(a) Western Desert Language.


B. Larger communities characterised by the existence of a number of language groups.

Location School Languages Stage of Comments

Population Linguistic

(30.6.72) Analysis

Elcho Is. 460 G upapuynu Linguistic The m ajority languages are

analysis G upapuynu and Galpu;

completed W angurri and W arram iri are G alpu ,

W angurri Linguistic

linguistically related to Galpu.

W arram iri analysis

W ulbulkarra Γ not yet

+ completed The Advisory G roup has been

others informed that the Galpu

would be likely to object to

the use o f G upapuynu as the

language of the school.

M aningrida 375 Burera Linguistic M aningrida presents a very

analysis complex language situation,

completed with the language groups

Gunavidji arranged in Colum n 2 in des-

Djinan cending order of size of

N akara Linguistic group.

R em barm ga analysis

Gunwinggu completed The area is Gunavidji country,

but the m ajority group is


Gunbalang Linguistic

Gungurragoni analysis

Gupapuynu completed

Yirrkala 303 Gum atj Linguistic The D japu and Gumatj are

analysis completed linguistically very similar.

Djapu The Rirratjinu people are a

Rirratjinu very pow erful group; there

Manjgalili has been considerable inter-

+ marriage between the

others R irratjinu and Gumatj.

Papunya 311 Pintubi Linguistic Papunya presents a very

(W.D.L.) analysis complex language situation.

completed While the Pintubi group is

W albiri Linguistic numerically the largest, there

analysis are significant numbers of

pro­ ceeding

Walbiri and Luritja.

K ukatja/L uritja (S.I.L.) A randa Linguistic

analysis completed


Location School Languages Stage of Comments

Population Linguistic

(30.6.72) Analysis

W arrabri 237 Walbiri Linguistic The W albiri and W arra-

analysis m unga both constitute large

proceeding groups. Kaititj and A lyuwara (S.I.L.) are both small m inorities, the

W arram unga rem ainder of the population

Kaititj being divided alm ost evenly

A lyuw ara between Walbiri and W arra­


Libanangu (Wave Hill) 102 G urindji Linguistic G urindji are the m ajority

+ survey has group.

Wave Hill Station 21 begun

123 Walbiri Linguistic

+ analysis

others proceeding


N umbulwar 130 N unggubuyu Linguistic Nunggubuyu is the m ajority

analysis proceeding group.

D japu + others

Daly River 112 N gangikurongor Some

Nganiwamiri linguistic

W agam an analysis of

M aringar some of

M allak M allak the

M aridiyel languages

M aranungku has


Delissaville 68 Wagaitj


other languages

Ti Tree 80 A nm atjira Linguistic analysis

Walbiri proceeding


C. Small communities characterised by the existence of a number of language groups.

Location School

Population (30.6.72)

Languages Stage ot Comments

Linguistic Analysis

Borroloola 53 Y anyula

G araw a

Linguistic analysis proceeding

Cresswell D owns 13 Y anyula

G araw a + others

Crocker Is. 49 Iwaitja


M arrgu + Others

Linguistic analysis only begun

Linguistic analysis is completed

Beswick Station 34 Diverse

group of languages (see Bamyili)

Lake Evella 33 Diverse group

of languages (see Elcho Island)

M ountain Valley 12 Ritarrngu

Djinba Rembarrnga + a few others

Roper Valley 26 N alakan

Rembarrnga Ritarrngu + diverse others

Urapunga 16 Ritarrngu




Location School Languages

Population (30.6.72)

Stage of Com m ents

Linguistic Analysis

Monteginnie 16 M udbra


diverse group of languages

Elsey 19 M angarai

Y angm an + diverse group of languages

Brunette Downs 24 W am baia



Newcastle W aters 24 Jingali

M udbra

Alexandria 21 W agaia



Banka Banka 25 W arram unga



N eutral Junction 35 Kaititj


a very few speakers of other languages

Utopia 44 Kaititj

A nm atjira + others

Lake Nash 45 A lyaw arra


a few others

Nutwood Downs 13 Alawa


m any others

Rockham pton Downs 20 W arram unga + a few others


Location School Languages Stage of Comments

Population Linguistic

(30.6.72) Analysis

Willowra 22 W albiri Linguistic

+ analysis

others proceeding


M ary vale 46 Pitjantjatjara/ Linguistic

Luritja analysis

(W.D.L.) A randa


Iw upataka (Jay Creek) 43 L uritja (W.D.L.) A randa Linguistic

Pitjantjatjara i- analysis

(W.D.L.) j1 completed

Docker River Pitjantjatjara 'I Linguistic

Pintubi > analysis

1 completed

N gatatjara (All W.D.L.)

Haasts Bluff 16 K ukatja/L uritja

(W.D.L.) A randa Linguistic

+ analysis

others completed

Victoria River Downs 10 Diverse group

of languages

Rosslyn Plains 14


D. Communities where there are special language problems.

Location School

Population (30.6.72)

Languages Stage of

Linguistic Analysis

Comm ents

N gukurr (R oper River) 187 R oper Pidgin R idarm gu Alawa + others

Some linguistic analysis

The linguist who has worked at R oper River advises that

Pidgin is the first language of m ost of the children. Only

older people would have

learned A law a as their first


Bamyili 181 D angbon

+ other

languages and dialects Pidgin o r a

sub-standard English

No linguistic analysis

The Advisory G roup has been inform ed that either Pidgin or a form of substandard English is the language used by the

children. This has not, to our

knowledge, been confirmed by linguistic studies.

Amoonguna 92 A randa

Pitjantjatjara (W.D.L.) Walbiri

Luritja (W.D.L.)

Linguistic analysis completed. Linguistic

analysis proceeding

A randa is the dom inant

language (in its various

dialects); each of the othei

groups is rather small. The

existence of the comm unity as a ‘tow n’ com m unity creates special problem s.

Bagot 99 Cross section of

diverse language groups among

visitors and resi­ dents, including a form of Pidgin

The existence of the com ­

m unity as a ‘town’ com m unity creates special problems.



5.1 The teaching team

5.1.1 The teaching team in the schools in Aboriginal communities consists of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members. Each group should contribute its special strengths, complementary to those of the other group, to the bilingual education programme. At present the special strengths of the non-Aboriginal

teachers lie in: their achievement of tertiary levels of education; their full professional education as teachers; their competency, fluency and native accent in English, and

their intimate knowledge of the non-Aboriginal Australian culture.

At present the special strengths of the Aboriginal members of the teaching team lie in: their competency, fluency and native accent in their Aboriginal language; the emotional security they provide to the children in the classroom;

their intimate knowledge of their own people and culture; their role as mediators between the Aboriginal culture and the non­ Aboriginal Australian culture, and

their completion of some teacher training1.

5.1.2 A redefinition of the roles of Aborigines and non-Aborigines in the teaching team in the pre-school and infants’ classes is recommended, so that the strengths of each group may be fully realised, to the benefit of the children. It is also recommended that the teaching in English be carried out by those who are native speakers of English and that the teaching in the Aboriginal language be carried out by those who are native speakers of that language. It is recommended that, in the initial stages of the program: each classroom (pre-school and infants) be allocated a team consisting of one fully-qualified teacher and one Aboriginal teaching member2 the fully-qualified teacher adopt two major roles: the teaching of English

and in English, according to the recommended models, and the in-service education of the Aboriginal team member. the aboriginal team member implement with the children that part of the program which is to be conducted in the Aboriginal language.

'T he am ount and extent of teacher training varies, ranging from on-the-job experience in which typically the non-Aboriginal teacher assists in an understanding of goals and teach­ ing strategies, to the completion of a one-year course of training as a Teaching Assistant, through to the completion of a two-year course leading to the qualification of Teaching

Officer. In both the latter cases on-the-job experience precedes the training. As with any group, one would expect a wide range of pedagogical competence. ’As A boriginal teaching team members achieve full professional teacher qualification this portion may change; for example, one non-Aboriginal teacher might, in those circum­

stances, be responsible for the English com ponent of the program in two or three class­ rooms.

25 In regard to the in-service education of the Aboriginal member, it is recommended that a scheduled time or times be set aside each day1 so that the fully-qualified teacher can work courteously and systematically with the Aboriginal team member:

to extend his/her understanding of the educational goals and objectives; to extend his/her understanding of and competence in appropriate teaching strategies; to help him/her plan activities and sequences within activities; to help him /her to develop a program of evaluation and to utilise the information gained from formative evaluation in subsequent teaching; in general, to help him /her to acquire professional attitudes and com­

petencies. The Head Teacher should be responsible for this on-going in-service education. The fully-qualified teacher will also need help in understanding and achieving competence in his/her new role as teacher-educator and in establishing supportive relationships with the Aboriginal member of the teaching team.

5.1.3 In the middle and upper-primary school and in the post-primary school, the teaching team should consist of: fully-qualified teachers who will undertake the English component of the program;

Aboriginal team members who will conduct the Aboriginal Language Arts program and, where appropriate, assist the English-speaking teachers to aid the children’s comprehension through use of the Aboriginal language;

Aboriginal adults who conduct the Aboriginal Studies component of the program1. Aboriginal members of the teaching team in these sections of the school will also require in-service education to develop their competencies.

5.1.4 1973 is seen as a developmental year. The members of the teaching teams in the schools embarking on the bilingual education program will need to develop competencies in their new roles. In addition, all officers concerned specifically with the bilingual program should during the year aid the develop­ ment of the on-going program, identify problem areas and co-operate in finding

solutions for some of these problems. In order to promote these developments, and to facilitate useful inter­ change among teaching staffs, the convening of reasonably frequent short workshop sessions is recommended, confined at times to the non-Aboriginal teachers, at other times to the Aboriginal members of the teaching team, and at yet other times to the total teaching teams. The Aboriginal members of the teaching teams which might commence the bilingual program in 1973 are diverse in respect to their previous teacher

‘Depending on the attitudes of the m em bers of the team, these scheduled times could be after school hours or within school time. If the latter is considered m ore desirable,

arrangements should be made so that other Aboriginal adults are available to supervise the children in appropriate activities, e.g. showering, free play, expressive activities, and so on. -This aspect should, as a general rule, be conducted in school time, but not necessarily on

school premises.


training. In view of this and in view of the need to help them become as

proficient as possible in their new roles, it is recommended that consideration be given to these people undertaking a special in-service course. This might be held in Darwin during November-December 1973 and January 1974. Those Aboriginal members of teaching teams who will be participating in the bilingual education program for the first time in 1974 should also participate in this course in order that they might begin to develop the required competencies. Assistance from the Summer Institute of Linguistics, along the lines indicated below in would be highly desirable. The non-Aboriginal members of the teaching teams involved in the bilingual education program in 1973 and 1974 should also undertake a short Workshop in-service course, preferably towards the end of 1973 or at the beginning of 1974.

5.1.5 It is critical to the successful achievement of the goals of the bilingual education program that all members of the teaching team be fully competent in their roles. This will, in addition to the in-service education described above, require changes in the pre-service teacher education of all team members.

Teacher Education of Aboriginal staff for bilingual education The present programs of teacher training have been devised with a view to preparing Aborigines for roles as Teaching Assistants or Teaching Officers. The new conception of their role in bilingual schools will require

changes in emphasis within the teacher-training program; in particular more emphasis will be required on the understanding of educational objectives, of the nature of the learning processes and of child development, the development of competence in the wide range of teaching strategies required in the teaching

role, understanding and skills relating to evaluation of pupils and the

utilisation of evaluative information in the planning of on-going activities. The Advisory Group understands that the Summer Institute of Linguistics may be willing to assist in the teacher-education program for Aborigines by holding sessions during which a linguist would work with trainees from a particular language group, holding discussions of the pedagogical content

of the teacher-education course in the Aboriginal language, so that trainees might extend their understanding of the principles and strategies involved. Such assistance from the S.I.L. would, in the view of the Advisory Group, strengthen considerably the teacher-education program. All Aboriginal members of the teaching teams will need to be highly proficient in reading and writing their own languages. In addition, those responsible for Aboriginal Language Arts with the older children will need a clear grasp of the grammar and syntax of their language. These areas should

be included in the teacher-education program. The Advisory Group believes that the aim should be to have all new or untrained Aboriginal members of the teaching teams, but particularly those who are to work in the pre-school and infants’ school, complete an initial amended two-year course of teacher training (over time) and then to undertake

at a later point in time a further final period of teacher education.

27 Very serious consideration should be given to the following factors in the planning of the initial teacher-education courses for Aboriginal members of the teaching staff:

Aboriginal people entering these training courses have special needs and problems and it would be highly desirable for these courses to be conducted by officers with special knowledge of their culture and situation and special understandings of their problems. The training courses, as at present will need to incorporate aspects of

general education, and opportunities for social and personal develop­ ment,. Again these aspects could best be handled by officers know­ ledgeable about the Aboriginal people. Professional members of staff associated with the bilingual education program should be closely involved in these courses. Teacher-education institutions are normally developed to offer courses to single students; where students are married the institution does not typically need to make any adjustments. This appears not to be appropriate for Aboriginal students undertaking teacher training; many are married, many have children and sometimes spouses must

accompany the students in the interests of mental health and adjustment. These facts require consideration not only in respect of residential issues; they may also require modifications to the scheduled day programs. It seems to the Advisory Group that this situation calls for innovatory thinking by teacher-educators, with the initial courses perhaps being provided at several locations so that long absences at distant centres can be avoided. Discussions should be held with teacher-education authorities and the Commonwealth Teaching Service to examine how the needs of Aboriginal teacher trainees can best be met.

Teacher education of non-Aboriginal Staff 5.1.6 The recommendations of the Advisory Group on the implementation of a bilingual education program require certain changes in the pre-service teacher education of non-Aboriginal staff. In particular, the teacher-education program will need to equip trainees with:

special competencies in the teaching of English as a second language and a knowledge of the science of linguistics, competencies and attitudes appropriate to their role as team members and as teacher-educators of the Aboriginal members of the teaching team. The usual objectives of teacher-education programs will continue to be relevant also. Discussions should be held with teacher-education authorities, especially the Canberra College of Advanced Education, with a view to determining how these special objectives in the preparation of teachers for service in these N.T.

schools can best be met.

’See Annual Report, 1971/72 of the Aboriginal Education Branch, p. 38.


Supply of Aboriginal staff 5.1.7 The presence of trained Aboriginal teaching staff in the classrooms is an essential pre-requisite to the successful functioning of a bilingual education program. The supply of such teaching staff is therefore a critical factor for the

on-going progress of the program. As Aboriginal teaching staff members are required to have mastery of the local Aboriginal language used in the school, they will usually be recruited from the local Aboriginal community and in general, will not be transferable from a school in their own language area to one where a different language is in use. These restraints will impose unusual and very serious staffing problems for an Education Department. Furthermore, the need for Aboriginal members of the teaching staff will be a rapidly increasing one. It will increase within each bilingual school as the program reaches higher into the school grades, and it will increase in total numbers as bilingual education is extended to additional schools. The implications of this for recruitment of Aboriginal staff include the addition of the language factor in the selection of candidates for teacher education, care being necessary to ensure that each bilingual school’s requirements are identified and allowed for. In the Advisory Group’s opinion, however, the solution to staff supply problems can best be sought through the support of the Aboriginal communities themselves. Assuming that expanded teacher-training facilities will become available, there will need to be an enthusiastic and sustained effort by all con­

cerned to lift the status of the teaching profession in Aboriginal regard and to encourage the communities to do their own selection and recruitment among their own people. This is regarded as a most important aspect of the program and one which should be stressed at in-service conferences, meetings of Inspectors, Head Teachers and other professional groups.

5.2 Curriculum Modifications

The Pre-School and the Infants’ School 5.2.1 The Advisory Group sees a need for the content of the present Pre-School curriculum1 to be closely examined to determine whether modifications are required for pre-schools in the bilingual education program. The current description and presentation of the curriculum is well-suited to fully-qualified pre-school teachers. In view of the introduction of bilingual education and the changed role of Aboriginal members of the teaching team, consideration should be given as to whether any changes in the format are


5.2.2 In the Infants’ School it is recommended that, in the first instance, the bilingual education program be introduced only to the new intake of school entrants.

'Comments on some aspects of the Pre-School curriculum are provided in Appendix A.

29 In general, it would appear educationally unsound to interrupt and make major changes to the educational program of those children who are in their second and third years of Infants’ School. Most will at least be moving towards acquiring literacy skills in English and some will have acquired considerable early skills. For these children literacy in their Aboriginal language can be acquired at a later stage after their literacy skills in English are firmly established. A t the same time, the school can accommodate some of the changes implicit in the adoption of a bilingual education program:

by increasing the use of the Aboriginal language, by Aboriginal members of school staff, in relevant activities; by introducing the reading of Aboriginal stories to the children when these become available;

by encouraging the introduction of appropriate Aboriginal studies, depending on the wishes and initiative of the adults. The gradual implementation of a bilingual education program which is thus recommended is not only in the best educational interests of the children who have attended school for one or more years, but will also permit more effective planning and development. In the first instance, curriculum planners and advisers will be concerned only with developing the First Year Infants’ program; attention, expertise and resources will thus be concentrated on the one age group. Further­ more, as indicated earlier, it is not possible to predict with any certainty the rates of learning or the levels of development the children will achieve during their participation in a bilingual education program. During 1973 it should be possible for broad guidelines and expectations for the Infants’ School program to be established, but detailed programs will only become possible as the first groups of children advance through the Infants’ School. Similarly, the extent to which and the areas in which each of the two languages will serve as the medium of instruction in the third and fourth years of schooling cannot at this stage be predetermined. As with the Pre-School, the Advisory Group sees a need for the content of the present Infants’ School curriculum1 to be closely examined to determine whether modifications are required for schools in the bilingual education program. Consideration should be given to determining the appropriateness of the presently advocated teaching strategies in the light of the capabilities of the Aboriginal team members and possible cultural or linguistic constraints.

The Middle and Upper Primary School and Post-Primary School 5.2.3 As the 1973 first-year entrants progress through their third year of schooling, an examination should be made of the issue of the balance of the

two languages as the languages of instruction in the fourth and later years of schooling. Probably the principles which should guide decision-making include the children’s oral fluency and degree of literacy in English and the appropriate­ ness of one language or the other to particular subjects in terms of content and resource materials. General revision of the curriculum may well be necessary as the 1973 entrants enter the middle-primary school.

‘Comments on some aspects of the Infants’ School curriculum are provided in Appendix B.


5.2.4 With regard to the Language Arts in the Aboriginal language, several problems will need to be solved. It will be necessary to determine the specific objectives of the program of Language Arts, devise a sequential program and determine appropriate

strategies. The Aboriginal member of the teaching team will need special help to develop his competencies and his teaching skills. Materials of appropriate content and interest level will need to be devised. In schools where linguists, reading materials and Aboriginal staff are available, older children already secure in their literacy skills in English could be introduced to literacy in the Aboriginal language1. When they have developed the appropriate skills, they might well be asked to create reading materials of

interest to the children in the infants’ classes.

5.2.5 An active attempt should be made to foster the interest of the adult community in offering an Aboriginal Studies program. The community itself would have to implement the program and determine the age and sex groups

for whom particular aspects of the program are appropriate. The Head Teacher should co-operate with the community in determining the allocation of time and the locale for the Aboriginal Studies program.

5.2.6 The inclusion of Aboriginal Language Arts and Aboriginal Studies will make additional demands on school time. To some extent, these additional demands may be offset by the increased learning efficiency which is expected to result from the bilingual approach, but this problem should be kept in mind

to avoid making undue demands upon the children.

Kormilda College, Dhupuma College and Yirara College 5.2.7 In the light of the experiences gained as the bilingual education program is implemented, consideration should be given to the most effective methods of developing appropriate Aboriginal Studies and Aboriginal Language Arts

programs for students in these colleges. It is realised that the heterogeneous nature of the student population at each College, together with the present lack of literature in the Aboriginal languages, will impose some constraints.

Non-Aboriginal children attending bilingual schools 5.2.8 The Advisory Group is particularly concerned that the educational needs of these children should not be overlooked in schools where bilingual approaches are used. The bilingual program as envisaged in Models I and II would not be appropriate to the children whose first language is English although, without doubt, they would enjoy and benefit from joining with the Aboriginal children in some of the school activities of these years. In order that their needs may be fully met, the Head Teachers will need to evolve a form of school organisation, particularly during the pre-school and infants’ school years, so that non-Aboriginal children can make educational progress commensurate with their abilities and, at the same time, profit from

interaction with Aboriginal children. 'Miss Stokes, the linguist at Angurugu, in 1972 introduced a well-attended program of literacy in Anindilyaugwa for G rade 3 children in after-school hours.


5.2.9 Aboriginal children attending other schools There are some hundreds of Aboriginal children attending schools in the Northern Territory other than those in Aboriginal communities. Undoubtedly, for many of these children an Aboriginal language is their first language. The Advisory Group, during its brief survey, has not been able to consider the situation of these children.

5.3 The production of reading and other resource materials in the Aboriginal languages.

5.3.1 The bilingual education program could be inaugurated in five schools in 1973. If this recommendation is accepted, it is essential that an immediate start be made on the production of reading and other resource materials in the Aboriginal languages in the selected schools.

5.3.2 The major initial need is to create a rich reading environment in the school and in the town, so that interest is aroused in and pleasure associated with the reading process. The first materials produced should be the traditional stories told by fathers and mothers to young children. These could be illustrated and then read rather than told to the children in pre-school and Infants’ School. Interest in such stories is likely to be very high. These early materials should be followed by stories of high interest to young children, created by the adults, by Aboriginal members of the teaching team and by older school children. Once a start has been made on the production of materials such as those described above, it should be appropriate, using a team working in consultation with linguists and anthropologists, for a widening range of reading materials to be created. It may well be that the content of these materials could be common to reasonably wide geographical areas, although the languages used would be the languages of the particular communities.

5.3.3 Concurrently with the production of reading materials designed to create a reading environment and to form the nucleus of a library, classroom materials should be developed. These would consist of the normal range of classroom materials developed in Infants’ Schools1.

5.3.4 If the ‘Breakthrough to Literacy’ approach is used in the initial stages of teaching reading, early reading primers will not be needed probably until late in the First Year of Infants’ School. This would allow time for the planning and production of such books. Further detailed discussions should be held with Dr Gudschinsky2 at the March Workshop3 with a view to determining the set of principles which should guide development of graded reading books.

‘Excellent suggestions are contained in the Queensland D epartm ent of Education Van Leer Foundation Project: H andbook fo r First-Year Experim ental Language D evelopm ent Program: Book One. :D r Gudschinsky is the international literary co-ordinator for the Summer Institute of

Linguistics. “See page 73.


5.3.5 As the bilingual education program is developed into the later grades of the primary school reading materials will need to be of two types: stories and books of high reading interest to various age groups for the Aboriginal Language Arts program;

content materials for those curriculum areas in which the language of instruction is the Aboriginal language. These materials would need to be appropriate to the curriculum in the first four years of the primary school.

5.3.6 If it is possible, a start should be made during 1973 on the production cf materials (following the sequence outlined above) for communities other than the five selected for the 1973 program. Communities likely to move into the bilingual program in 1974 should receive priority attention.

5.3.7 All reading materials produced should be approved by a team consisting of a linguist, an anthropologist and appropriate educational staff.

5.3.8 Cumulative experience gained during the early months will be the best guide to determining the most appropriate procedure for gathering material from the people.

5.3.9 It is strongly recommended that when materials are being produced sufficient copies of booklets should be made to enable wide distribution in the community as well as in the school.

5.4 Evaluation.

5.4.1 Instruments and techniques for evaluating children’s progress in those sections of the school program conducted in the Aboriginal languages will need to be developed. The wide range of evaluative techniques commonly available to teachers should be employed: tests, check lists, behaviour observations, folders of children’s work and so on.

5.4.2 In the initial stages, however, difficulties may occur because of the limited professional skills of the Aboriginal members of the teaching teams in the Infants’ School. During 1973, staff associated with the bilingual education program should focus their attention on devising sets of evaluation techniques which may be used easily and effectively by the Aboriginal team members to assess the

children’s progress and to guide their own teaching. The development of such techniques could well be a major item on the Agenda of the in-service workshops.

5.4.3 The critical importance of the proper and on-going evaluation of children’s progress is emphasised; effective teaching depends on this. The evaluative techniques recommended to schools must be appropriate not only to the curriculum content and goals and the children’s developmental level but also to the

professional skills of the teaching staff.

5.4.4 The Advisory Group would like to draw attention to three areas where special attention will need to be given to evaluation. Children’s progress and fluency in oral English must be assessed. This is particularly important as the transition from literacy in an Aboriginal language


to literacy in English will be hampered and degree of success in the latter limited if children are not sufficiently fluent and at ease in English when the transition is made1. Children’s mastery of literacy skills in the Aboriginal language must also be assessed. Again, transition to literacy in English is likely to be too difficult for the children if initial literacy skills are not secure. Children’s oral progress (receptive and expressive) in the Aboriginal language will also need to be evaluated so that further progress can be encouraged and stimulated. This aspect presents particular difficulties in view of our absence of knowledge of Aboriginal children’s development in their own language. The Advisory Group would like consideration to be given to the practicability and merit of the following suggestion: Tape recordings of each child’s response to a selected picture or to a standardised action situation portrayed with the use of miniature objects might be made at two- monthly or three-monthly intervals. These tape recordings would be kept. After each recording the advisory linguist on site could then listen to the tapes with the Aboriginal teaching team member with a view to noting continuing errors, growth in vocabulary, growth in control of structures and so on. If records could be kept of such analyses, the Aboriginal team member would then be in a position to guide each child to further development. An additional advantage of this approach would be that the Aboriginal team members’ attention would be focused on the children’s actual expression; at present it is probable that, by virtue of their experience and training, Aboriginal staff would not be accustomed to listening to children’s use of their own language in this way.

S. Cumulative records such as these would offer the possibility of determining developmental stages in children’s oral linguistic development.

5.4.5 Evaluation needs also to be considered in a wider sense; the success of the bilingual education approach itself must be assessed. There needs to be on­ going evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the program with a view to developing increasingly effective programs. It seems to the Advisory Group that evaluation through the use of control/experimental groups is not appropriate. Each Aboriginal community is unique and relevant variables could not be controlled. An alternative approach might be to consider the children who have entered the school at earlier stages and who have participated in essentially a monolingual education program2 as a comparison group. The achievements of the children embarking on the bilingual program could then be compared, over successive years, with the achievements of the comparison group3.

’In an earlier section, recom mendations were made about the establishment of minimum essential goals in both these areas. Tt is recognised that in most schools some use of the Aboriginal language has been

made, in some cases extensive use. However, earlier program s have been basically oriented towards English. ’This approach, too, has its weaknesses. A m ajor weakness is that there is no account taken of the changing social and cultural situation of the people in the community. Nevertheless,

it would seem a better approach than the control group/experim ental group approach.

34 This approach would require assessment of children at the earliest possible opportunity in 1973. It is suggested that assessment of children entering their second, third, fourth and fifth years of schooling would provide appropriate data for examining the progress of the children in the bilingual program during

the first four years of school. In view of the fact that the testing should be conducted as soon as possible and in view of the limited number of standardised tests appropriate for use in these schools, it is suggested that assessment be confined to the areas of oral English, reading achievement in English and mathematical concept ability1. It is expected that the introduction of a bilingual education program will lead not only to increased academic achievements but also to improved attitudes of children and parents and increased parental involvement. In order to check on these aspects, Inspectors might be asked to make detailed comments

on the existing classroom climates and on the attitudes and adjustments of the children in the five schools beginning the bilingual program; repetition of these observations and comments at later stages would provide some indication of these effects of the bilingual program. Head Teachers in each of the five schools might

also be asked to keep records, over time, of relevant parental behaviours (that is, those parental behaviours which indicate degree of interest and involvement in the children’s education).

5.4.6 Needed research It is recommended that a research and development program in the area of evaluation be instituted. The Advisory Group recognises that its suggestions (in 5.4.5 above) do not comprise a satisfactory total approach to the evaluation of the effects of a bilingual education program. They are suggestions merely for an immediate start in 1973. It would strongly recommend that well-designed research be carried out

in this area. In view of the wide demands the bilingual program will make upon the professional staff, it is recommended: that the Commonwealth make special funds available, and that special efforts be made to attract research scholars to this area,

so that further research may be conducted into the development of techniques and instruments of pupil evaluation, and into the total effects of a bilingual education program.

‘Discussions of possible tests have been held with the professional staff of the Aboriginal Education Branch.



6.1 The Advisory Group considers it a matter of the utmost importance that staff and facilities be provided to support the personnel in the schools engaged in the bilingual program. Unless adequate support services are provided the full benefits of bilingual education cannot be achieved.


6.2 A first priority is considered to be the appointment of a senior officer to have overall responsibility for the development, implementation and expansion of bilingual education. It is most important that the program be implemented from the very beginning in the most effective way and this senior appointment is seen as an urgent first step.

6.2.1 As it seems likely that the teachers engaged in the program will require more personal advice and assistance than can be given by the senior officer referred to in 6.2 in his necessarily short visits to their remote locations, consideration should be given to the appointment of advisory teachers whose field of activity should be limited to a small number of schools. Initially there would seem to be a need for two such teachers, one based at Darwin and the other at Alice Springs. These people could also play an important part in the gathering of reading material in their local communities.

6.2.2 The expertise of the present professional staff will need to be drawn upon in the development of curricula for the bilingual program, and this staff may well need to be increased to cope with the additional demands upon their services.

6.2.3 In the production of materials for the various language groups, in particular, it is considered that the professional staff will need to have the benefit of readily available consultation with a suitably qualified linguist and with a suitably qualified anthropologist. In the opinion of the Advisory Group, consideration should be given to obtaining the services of such people, preferably on a continuing basis, regard being had to the valuable part they might well play in research activities recommended in Section 4 and in in-service workshops, seminars and conferences.

6.2.4 Among other areas which are likely to require additional staff for the effective implementation of the bilingual program are pre-schooling and in-service training. Urgent consideration should be given to the needs of these areas in the light of the further demands which will be imposed upon them by the recommended program.

Printing fa c ilities 6.3 There will be an urgent need to produce the reading and other resource materials described in Section 5.3, since at present there are very few such materials suitable for school use. If a commencement is made in 1973 with the five schools recommended in Section 7, reading materials will need to be produced this year in five languages. Aboriginal people of the five selected communities have already agreed to make their traditional children’s stories available. Next year more communities, and more languages, are expected to become involved.


6.3.1 In order that materials of this complexity and in sufficient quantity can be produced without delay, immediate action should be taken to provide the Darwin Office of the Education Department with offset-printing facilities and the necessary operating staff. Because the production of reading materials is essential to the operation of the program, this recommendation is rated by the Advisory

Group as being of the highest priority.

Consultative Committee 6.4 In view of the innovatory nature of the recommended program and its possible implications for other areas in Australia, it is highly desirable that a Consultative Committee including an educationist, a suitably qualified linguist

and an anthropologist be appointed to review the bilingual education program from time to time and to provide guidance as required in regard to policy aspects of the program.


7. SCHOOLS RECOMMENDED FOR THE INAUGURATION OF BILINGUAL EDUCATION IN 1973 7.1 In making an initial choice of communities to visit in its exploration of the possibilities of inaugurating a bilingual education program, the Advisory Group selected communities where conditions necessary for the initial implementation of such a program seemed likely to be met. It seemed best to initiate the program under as close as possible to ideal conditions soi that problems could be discovered and solved; solutions could then, at a later stage, be tried out in communities where conditions would be more difficult.

7.2 The major conditions, in the judgment of the Advisory Group included: a community with a single language or at least a dominant language likely to be acceptable to the community as the language of the school; linguistic research and analysis to the point where the language could be used in a written form in the school program; the availability of a linguist who had studied that language, and if possible, who was living on-site; the existence, on school staff, of Aboriginal Teaching Officers or Teaching

Assistants; the existence, on school staff, of a Head Teacher and other non-Aboriginal staff members who would be likely to be enthusiastic about the im­ plementation of a bilingual program.

7.3 Table II describes the schools which were selected. Inspection of the table shows that not all of the criteria were met in each case.

7.4 In making its selection, the Advisory Group, conscious of the existence of a large number of comparatively small schools in the Northern Territory, decided to include at least one small school, so that issues related to school size and organisation could be explored. In the event, two small schools (Areyonga and Goulburn Is.) were included.

7.5 The Advisory Group then visited Angurugu, Maningrida, Goulburn Is., Areyonga and Hermannsburg.

7.5.1 Maningrida, a community with diverse language groups, was visited so that the Group might: become more aware of some of the problems that would face the introduction of a bilingual program in a multi-lingual community,

particularly when not all its languages had been analysed; and initiate discussions with representatives of the community about the problems in selecting a language for the school program1.

7.5.2 The Group tried unsuccessfully on two occasions to reach Milingimbi; the airstrip was not open. However, it was possible for the Group to have extensive and fruitful discussions in Darwin with the Head Teacher, the First-Year Infants’ Teacher and the resident linguist. The Northern Territory representative on the Advisory Group plans to visit Milingimbi in the very near future to ascertain the community’s wishes.

'It is hoped that M aningrida will be visited on a num ber of occasions during the coming year, so that discussions with the com m unity representatives can be continued, clarifying the issues involved in order that the people, in due course, may be able to reach a decision that can be implemented in the school.


Table II — Recommended schools for the inauguration of bilingual education in 1973.

Language C om m unity Availability Aboriginal m embers A ttitude o f non­

group/s acceptance o f linguist o f teaching teams Aboriginal teachers hool

ngurugu A nindilyaugwa Yes Miss J. Stokes, Pre-School: Miss Favourable,

resident linguist Joyce Bara, Miss M. Ough, the

on An guru gu. Teaching Asst who teacher who will

has completed one work with Miss year of training. Lalara, has in 1972

Infants’ I: Miss conducted some

N ancy Lalara, experimental work in

Teaching Officer using the language,

who has completed Excellent relations two years of between Miss Ough

training. and Miss Lalara.

ioulbum M aung

sland Gunwinggu

Gunbalang Gunavidji

Yes Miss H. Hinch, Pre-School·. Mrs

The comm unity resident linguist Mangiwa has accepted on G oulburn Is. M anjiridju, Teaching


M aung as the

language of the school.

Officer, who has

completed two years of training, in sole

charge of pre-school. Infants’ I : M r Ralph G um udul, Teaching Officer who has completed two years


vlilingimbi G upapuynu Mission not yet Miss B. Lowe, Pre-School: Miss Very favourable.

D jam barrbuynu visited; Mr resident linguist K athleen Gayungi. M r Christie, the

Liyagalawu- M cG rath will (G upapuynu) Infants’ I: M r teacher who will

m irr visit in the near Milingimbi. Charles M anydjarri work with M r

Buyuyukulul- future. Charles M anydjarri,

m irr has already begun

+ others to acquire the


Areyonga L uritja/ Yes None on site. Pre-School: Very favourable.

Pitjantjatjara The community Recommended Untrained Teaching Head teacher and A randa has accepted consultation Assistant. wife have been

Pitjantjatjara with D r W. H. Infants’ I: Miss Judy anxious for some

as the Douglas, Derek, untrained time to implement

language of linguist, teaching assistant such a program.

the school. Kalgoorlie, and with some

approach to South Aust. for published Pitjantjatjara



Hermanns- Western Yes None on site. Pre-School: Not Favourable.

burg Aranda (School Recommend included in

Council) consultation program because no

with Mr P. non-Aboriginal pre-

Albrecht (Alice school teacher and Springs) and no trained

Professor Aboriginal Staff.

E. Strehlow Infants' I: Miss

(Adelaide). Antonia Mulkatana,

untrained but considerable experience.


7.6 The procedure followed by the Advisory Group on each of its visits was, briefly, as follows: Discussions were held with school and other staff and linguists. Initial discussions held with members of the community1. At this initial meeting the proposals contained in Model I were explained to the people and their educational justification discussed. The representatives were then asked to discuss the issue widely with the community and to arrange a larger meeting for the following day.

Continuing discussions with staff and linguists. Informal visits to a number of women by the woman member of the Advisory Group. A follow-up meeting with the community for further discussions2. Further detailed discussions, where possible, with the school staff, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. At these follow-up meetings, held at least one day after the initial meetings, questions were asked and issues clarified. The Advisory Group sought the community’s decision and in each case (excluding Maningrida where a decision was not sought) the community expressed marked pleasure in and approval of the proposal and identified the language which should be the language of the school. The Advisory Group also discussed the need for positive community support for the program, in the giving of stories, in the decision about and the implementation of the Aboriginal Studies component, and in the recruitment of Aboriginal staff.

7.7 The Advisory Group recommends that this approach be followed in other communities when it is planned to inaugurate bilingual education programs. It sees careful, detailed, unhurried discussions with the community as essential.

7.7.1 It would recommend also that during the actual implementation of the program, there be continuing consultations with the adult community.

‘A t A ngurugu and M aningrida a small group of representatives, at G oulburn Is. the Town Council, at Herm annsburg the School Council and at Areyonga a considerable group of people, the meeting being held in the village itself. “Rain made the follow-up meeting at A ngurugu impossible, but three of the Aboriginal

representatives held further discussions with the Advisory G roup for a period of two

hours. A t G oulburn Is. and Areyonga there were attendances of approximately 40 people. A t H erm annsburg the Advisory G roup interacted only with the School Council.




It seems to the Advisory Group, from a brief initial survey, that relatively few modifications to the present curriculum will be required. In the main, the objectives and activities will remain the same although the language of the pre­ school will change from English or English supported by an Aboriginal language

to an Aboriginal language.

2. Advice received from linguists suggests that English may be introduced as a second language in the first year of the pre-school, provided that the approach is an informal one and that pressure is not exerted on the children to acquire English. The English program should be continued and slightly expanded in the

second year. At present young children in many communities are exposed to an English environment, through films, radio and community institutions such as the store and hospital; no effort can or should be made to reduce this exposure to English, nor to discourage the child’s spontaneous use of English.

3. Similarly, pre-schools, through their equipment and furnishings, currently present to the young children aspects of the English environment; these environ­ mental aspects should in general be maintained. In addition, however, aspects of the familiar Aboriginal environment should be introduced to the pre-school,

to increase the children’s sense of security, to provide adequate stimulus to the desired learnings. to stimulate continued language development in the Aboriginal language.

4. While the curriculum, with the exception of English as a second language, will be implemented in the Aboriginal language, in certain aspects the introduction of English terms may be necessary. Through exposure to the non-Aboriginal Australian culture, the Aboriginal people have made adaptations to their

languages to accommodate certain western concepts (e.g. aeroplana for aeroplane at Angurugu). Such modifications will continue to be made by the people them­ selves and are regarded as part of the normal process of language growth. Where it is necessary for the pre-school, and later the school, to introduce English terms,

however, no attempt should be made by non-Aboriginal staff to modify these English terms; they should be presented in their English form only.

5. The Aboriginal languages do not contain a wide variety of vocabulary related to colour. Where it is necessary to use colour names in the pre-school, linguists advise that English colour names be used.

6. A similar situation occurs with respect to number names. Although there are variations between Aboriginal languages, in general it would seem that number names are limited to the smaller numbers. When number names are required in the activities of the pre-school, the English names should be used. 7

7. At present there is a heavy emphasis on English in songs and finger plays. Through consultations with local communities and Aboriginal teaching team members, it should be possible to plan the introduction of Aboriginal songs and finger plays. In general, it is considered that both Aboriginal and English songs

should have a place in the curriculum.


8. A major change which will need to be accomplished, over time, will be the building up of a library of children’s stories and picture books1 in the Aboriginal language selected for school use by the particular community. As these become available, there should be an emphasis on the reading of Aboriginal stories to the children, as well as the telling of stories; every effort should be made to create for the children an enjoyable reading environment. Captioned photographs (taken locally), and pictures featuring Aboriginal characters enacting familiar activities would be a valuable feature of the pre-school scene.

9. Aspects of Aboriginal art and craft should be introduced where applicable and the component of the curriculum concerned with Aboriginal Studies may well, depending on the wishes and initiative of the adults, be introduced into the pre­ school.

’See Report Section 5.3.




Significant areas of the curriculum in relation to bilingual education include those dealing with the use of English, the teaching of oral English, the attainment of literacy skills and Mathematics.

Use of English 2. The comments made in Appendix A in connection with the use of English in the pre-school apply also to the Infants’ School.

Oral English 3. The demands of the bilingual program and the predicted transfer to literacy in English during the Second-Year Infants’ Grade necessitate highly effective methods of teaching and learning oral English. If the children do not achieve the

required level of fluency in oral English before attempting the transition from literacy in an Aboriginal language to literacy in English, the potential advantages of this sequence (literacy in first language — literacy in English) will not be realised.

4. Dr Sarah Gudschinsky1 has emphasised that before transfer in literacy skills is attempted, the children, as a minimum, require to have mastered at an oral level in the second language all the vocabulary and grammatical structures required for the initial reading in the second language. Teachers in the field may need more specific guidance in order to assess children’s readiness to proceed from literacy

in the Aboriginal language, and a set of minimum goals in oral English should be devised which the children must achieve before proceeding to transfer their literacy skills from the Aboriginal language to English.

Literacy skills 5. It would be highly desirable for the most educationally and linguistically appropriate methods for developing initial literacy to be explored in detail with Dr Gudschinsky at the Workshop in Darwin in March, 19732 bearing in mind

particularly the existence of a teaching team of fully-qualified non-Aboriginal staff and Aboriginal members in each classroom3. Issues which might profitably be discussed with her include:

the appropriateness of the range of readiness skills and aptitudes at present in the curriculum to the development of reading readiness for literacy in an Aboriginal language;

‘D r Gudschinsky is the international literacy co-ordinator for the Summ er Institute of Linguistics. ‘Arrangem ents have already been made for this Workshop.

’The existence of these teaching teams may make possible approaches which were not possible in som e overseas programs where fully-qualified professional staff were not avail­ able. The Advisory G roup considers that the unique position of the N.T. schools in this regard should be taken into account in devising teaching strategies.


the advantages following the readiness period of an experience approach, particularly as it is expressed in ‘Breakthrough to Literacy’1 optimal methods of developing word-attack skills in languages such as the Aboriginal languages, particularly those involving problem-solving skills;

principles which should underlie the construction of graded readers; the optimal time allocation to literacy development; the use of diglot texts, probably in the third and succeeding years of school,

especially in relation to their use in promoting conceptual development.

6. The achievement of literacy skills in an Aboriginal language is one of the two prerequisite skills for transfer to literacy in English. The teaching teams in the field will need specific guidance on the goals to be achieved by the children before transfer, and an attempt might be made to set out a set of minimum specific goals based on Dr Gudschinsky’s definition of literacy:

T hat person is literate who, in a language that he speaks, can read and under­

stand anything he would have understood if it had been spoken to him and can write, so that it can be read, anything he can say.

Mathematics 7. From brief discussions wtih some linguists, it appears that in some at least of the Aboriginal languages the early conceptual bases of Mathematics can be established, though perhaps not to the degree of precision permitted by the English language. Where this is so and where it can be achieved, the children should be able fairly readily to develop the further degrees of precision when the transfer is made to English as the language of instruction in Mathematics. An examination should be made, with the co-operation of the appropriate linguists, of the potential of each Aboriginal language used in the bilingual program for the fostering of early conceptual development.

8. It would appear to be preferable to delay the introduction of number operations until English has become the language of instruction, although, as suggested in Appendix A, number names could be introduced in English as the need arises during the early years of the Infant School; a similar procedure might be followed in respect of the names of shapes in the geometry section of the curriculum.

9. It seems likely that the demands of the subject and the constraints of the Aboriginal languages may lead to the language of instruction in Mathematics moving from the Aboriginal language to English in the third year of the Infants’ School.

’In addition to the sound linguistic principles upon which this scheme is based, there appear to be certain special advantages in this approach for A boriginal pupils: (i) high interest level and meaningfulness; (ii) the relative ease of compiling the list of words for the sentence master (Aboriginal

team members during first term could, through listening intently to the children’s oral usage, compile such a list as a first approximation); (iii) the likely appeal of the physical manipulation of the printed cards.


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