Indigenous languages one click away from students


Extracts from Kunwinjku books in the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages

Extracts from Kunwinjku books in the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages

A major Charles Darwin University project will aim to make learning an Indigenous language easier for university students across Australia.

Project officer Cathy Bow said the project aimed to preserve endangered Indigenous languages by encouraging students to learn about them, under the authority of Indigenous knowledge owners.

Ms Bow and project leader, Professor of Education Michael Christie are based at the Northern Institute at CDU.

The project recently received a $40,000 Federal Government Office of Learning and Teaching grant, and will provide Indigenous knowledge owners with online platforms to share languages, histories, art, knowledge and culture with students.

“Most Indigenous languages in Australia are endangered,” Ms Bow said.

“We hope to design an online ‘shell’ that will increase and develop Indigenous knowledge availability, which is driven and authorised by the traditional language owners.”

She said students also would have the ability to directly engage with knowledge owners involved in the project by negotiating through their universities.

The project will begin with a pilot program on the North Australian language of Bininj Kunwok, spoken in Kakadu and West Arnhem Land regions with about 2000 native speakers.

“CDU has a long history of collaborative research with Indigenous communities and promotes Indigenous knowledge education through its Yolngu Studies course and other programs,” Ms Bow said.

Northern Institute researchers have also developed a digital archive of about 2,700 publicly accessible endangered literature written in NT Indigenous languages. To view the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages, visit W:

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