Social media connects Koori kids to their language

During a quiet Sunday afternoon two primary school aged children use their iPads to learn Wemba Wemba, the language of their people, from their home 50 km out of Melbourne.

The Friday prior, ESAs Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) team had posted a link on their Facebook page to the ABC News article: Swan Hill students combining technology and culture to give new life to Wemba Wemba language.

The article explains how year 3 students at Swan Hill Primary school created an app called Wemba Wemba Language, which provides an introduction to the language of the Wamba Wamba people, local to the Swan Hill area.
The students had been learning about the Wemba Wemba language in school, and decided to draw pictures to represent various animals, places, and family members to make their learning easier. They also enlisted the help of elders to provide voiceovers for their app, in order to revitalise the dying language.
Read the full article here.

As often happens with social media, the Facebook post made its way to the children’s guardian who was so excited to hear about the app she called the Swan Hill Primary School that same day to ask how her children could access the app.

While they had a Wemba Wemba dictionary at home, the children often struggled with the pronunciation of words. The Wamba Wamba people are one of the few groups who have a record of their language that is currently not commonly used.

By Sunday, with the help of her teenage son, the guardian had downloaded the app onto iPads at home. Later that day the children were talking on the phone to their Nana in Swan Hill. They told her about the app and played some of the words to her. Their Nana, like many of her generation, had not had the opportunity to learn her language, and was thrilled to share this experience with her grandchildren.

The children later learnt that their cousin was involved in the creation of the app, and had actually drawn illustrations and recorded some of the words featured.

In a world dominated by technology, stories like this remind us about the importance of retaining Australia’s history, and how little connections can make a big difference to the lives and learning of our students.