Multilingual affordances in remote Indigenous teaching and learning

Multilingual affordances in remote Indigenous teaching and learning Conference Paper

AARE 2015: Coast to coast: locations and directions in educational research

  • Author(s): Disbray, Samantha
  • Published: 2015

Abstract: Current national discourse presents a consensus on the importance of recognising, celebrating and maintaining Australia’s Indigenous languages as a national agenda (Australian Government, 2013), yet Indigenous languages do not enjoy a clear role in education policy (Disbray, 2015; Truscott & Malcolm, 2010). On the ground, in Northern Territory remote locations, where traditional and contemporary Indigenous languages are widely spoken, educators and community members work to develop the bilingual resources of young people in the spaces that remain, spaces or opportunities described in this paper as ‘affordances’ (Aronin & Singleton, 2012). This paper looks at language and culture learning ‘affordances’ which take place in in and out of school learning settings. In a handful of schools, language and culture teaching and learning takes place through bilingual education programs, as developed in the 1970’s. In others, Indigenous language and Culture (ILC) programs operate, with one or more classes within a school. However, in classrooms, in interactions between students and Indigenous teachers, speakers draw on their linguistic repertoires in emergent ways, in practices termed translanguaging in the ethnographic education literature (García & Wei, 2014), providing a rich affordance for language use and learning. Finally, country visits and cultural events, trips with local Ranger groups and other partnerships provide collaborations for teaching and learning. The burgeoning domains of digital technology, cultural and land management embrace and enhance local knowledge, and intergenerational learning opportunities. Such projects are increasingly linking with schools, through learning on country and cultural heritage and language projects. Here, educators and community members are creating and taking up spaces that allow innovative language and cultural teaching and learning. This paper analyses these bottom-up responses to policy (Canagarajah, 2005; McCarty, 2011; Schiffman, 2006; Shohamy, 2006) in a framework drawn from a theory of affordances (Aronin & Singleton, 2012) to explore and propose means to build on new approaches and partnerships for multilingual learning in remote Indigenous contexts.

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Disbray, Samantha, 2015, Multilingual affordances in remote Indigenous teaching and learning, Conference Paper, viewed 21 April 2024,

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