Supporting First Language Instruction in our schools

1 March, 2021

Instruction in First Languages offers a unique opportunity to preserve and reinvigorate Australia’s First Languages, many of which are highly endangered, and our union has formally committed to a course of work designed to support First Language programs in non-government schools.

Our union’s Yubbah Action Group will undertake three key projects over the period 2021-2022:

  1. Compilation of best practice case studies from our members’ schools;
  2. Advocacy for First Languages Instruction in non-government schools; and
  3. Development of industrial guidelines for schools hiring First Language teachers.

The Yubbah Action Group will have oversight of our First Languages work and welcomes contact from members who have experience in First Language Instruction.

In particular, members who would like to contribute to the collection of best practice case studies and the development of industrial guidelines are urged to contact IEU Research Officer Adele Schmidt (aschmidt@ieuqnt.org.au), while members with an interest in the industrial guidelines for First Language Teachers are encouraged to contact our Industrial Officer, Danielle Wilson (dwilson@ieuqnt.org.au).

First Nations resource development with QCAA

As part of our advocacy to enhance First Nations education, members of the Yubbah Action Group are assisting the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) in the development of resources to support teachers in embedding the cross-curriculum priority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures.

Embedding the cross-curriculum priority is essential to ensure First Nations students are supported to engage with education and the development of such resources is a key aspect of QCAA’s work.

The QCAA’s new Principal Project Officer, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, is leading this work with our union’s Yubbah Action Group providing strategic advice.

Activity workbook to teach First Languages

Another exciting new project is underway to promote and teach Australia’s First Languages to school students and communities across Australia.

First Languages Australia (FLA) along with the University of Queensland and Batchelor Institute in the Northern Territory are collaborating to develop and publish a language activity book.

Founded in 2013, the goal of FLA is to achieve a future where First Nations language communities have full command of their languages and can use them as much as they want to.

The organisation aims to communicate, advocate and educate Australians and international audiences as to the importance of First Languages and the urgent need to maintain and revive these languages, many of which are endangered.

The workbook will share fun activities that can be adapted for teaching First Nations language in a classroom or community context.

So far, FLA have compiled over 50 activities to begin the workbook, although they are seeking more contributions of activities from First Nations language teachers across the country.

Contributions can be made by completing an activity template which FLA will provide and contributors will be acknowledged with a photo and biography in the workbook and will receive a published copy.

The project also has a research component which asks First Language teachers the following questions:

  • What kind of activities are you using? In particular, do you use activities that include pictures to teach language and culture?
  • How do you access and share resources?
  • What curriculum documents are you using in your programming?

Members who teach or speak a First Language and would like to learn more or contribute a language activity to the project should contact Annalee Pope via email annalee@firstlangauges.org.au

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