[Crosspsted from ILAT]
Learning an old language

Thursday, 7 July 2005

Children living along the Lachlan will soon be speaking Wiradjuri again.
Forbes North Public School and Yoorana Gunya Family Violence Healing
Centre have received an $83,000 grant to teach the regional Aboriginal

The school will employ four Aboriginal tutors who will be trained to
teach the language and then help teachers in the classroom.

Their experience will be developed into teaching resources and published
for the other schools in the region.

Teacher Michele Herbert, whose classes have learned Wiradjuri for the
past three years, said she and her students loved the language.

"The kids love learning the songs," she said.

Performances in Wiradjuri were a highlight of last week's school NAIDOC
celebrations as was labelling body parts with their Aboriginal names.

Mrs Herbert said the programme would not only keep the Wiradjuri
language alive in Forbes, it would provide the children with the skills
to learn a second language at a young age.

"It is also building higher self-esteem and tolerance in all students,"
she said.

"I think reviving the Aboriginal culture is going to make stronger links
between all communities in our region.

"We are building positive relationships between the Aboriginal community
and the school - and the whole community."

It also remains a relevant language for the school to teach, given 30
per cent of students are Aboriginal.

"A lot of people use Aboriginal words around this region," Mrs Herbert

"A lot of place names, for example, are culturally significant."

The Wiradjuri unit Mrs Herbert developed for use in her own classes is
already due to be published on the Board of Studies website for other
schools to use as a resource.

There is potential for the joint programme to expand to a three-year
project if it is successful this year.