Ceduna hosts national Indigenous language program

LANGUAGE PROGRAM: Group participants during the course at Ceduna last week. Names in story.
LANGUAGE PROGRAM: Group participants during the course at Ceduna last week. Names in story.

A NATIONAL program designed to revitalise and preserve Indigenous languages started last week at Ceduna.

The Master Apprentice Language Learning Program will be held over the next six months, with three blocks of teaching sessions in Ceduna and other interim activities and projects taking place.

The first block of week-long teaching took place at the Ceduna Foreshore Hotel, involving the 10 course participants taking part in the program facilitated by the Far West Language Centre, through the Ceduna Aboriginal Corporation.

“The program is about reviving and strengthening endangered languages,” Far West Language Centre coordinator Lynette Ackland said.

“The aim is to revive the endangered languages and for people to be speaking them fluently.”

The course offers participants a Certificate II in Master Apprentice, with the aim of passing on their skills.

“Participants who know some of a language are building confidence to learn more, then they can teach others,” Ms Ackland said.

“It also helps participants in learning different languages - there are five in this region.”

Onatta Miller, Shannelle Scott, Denise Scott, Darlene Newchurch and Susan Betts hard at work.

Onatta Miller, Shannelle Scott, Denise Scott, Darlene Newchurch and Susan Betts hard at work.

The course is based on a Native American program offered in the United States and is the first nationally accredited course in Australia.

Trainer Ebony Joachim said participants would complete 100 hours in “immersion sessions” where no English was to be spoken.

“It is about supporting communities in learning languages and aiding endangered languages,” she said.

“Participants learn methods of teaching and pass on that knowledge.”

The course participants said they found the first block of learning valuable.

“I am finding it interesting,” Joylene Haynes said.

“When I was younger I spoke the Guatha language fluently but was forbidden to speak it as part of the Stolen Generation and so I forgot it.”

Port Lincoln resident Susan Betts said the course was beneficial.

“We can pass it on to the next generation and can encourage young people to engage in these languages.”

Whyalla-based Onatta Miller said she would be able to teach her children the methods she had learnt so they could speak the language her grandmother spoke.

Ms Ackland said there were a lot of Indigenous language speakers in the area but a course such as this ensured they could reach a teaching level to be able to pass on that knowledge.

The next Ceduna block is in May, followed by another block in August.

Pictured are: Joylene Haynes, Shanelle Scott, Onatta Miller, Denise Scott, Lynette Ackland, Ebony Joachim and front, Amy Parncutt, Estelle Miller, Darlene Newchurch and Susan Betts.