Indigenous children’s language practices in Australia

Indigenous children’s language practices in Australia Book Section

The Palgrave Handbook of Minority Languages and Communities

  • Author(s): Disbray, Samantha, Wigglesworth, Gillian
  • Secondary Author(s): Hogan-Brun, Gabrielle, O’Rourke, Bernadette
  • Published: 2019
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan UK
  • ISBN: 978-1-137-54066-9

Abstract: While the documentation of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages has attracted considerable research attention, the use of these languages by children has only recently emerged as a field of research. Building on the small number of early studies of these children’s language acquisition, development, and practices, we review the now considerable variety of studies which have explored Australian Aboriginal children’s early language learning environments and processes. In this ecologically complex linguistic environment, studies investigate children’s acquisition of some remaining traditional languages—often in multilingual contexts, child-directed speech styles and practices, and the development of new and emerging contact languages—both mixed languages and creoles, and the ways that children and young people are altering and innovating the language ecologies. The studies focus particularly on those children who are being raised in remote settings where, while English is taught in school, it is neither the language the children learn as their first language nor the language of the community in which the children live.

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Disbray, Samantha, Wigglesworth, Gillian, 2019, Indigenous children’s language practices in Australia, Book Section, viewed 04 December 2023,

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