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Transcript of Aboriginal English

Aboriginal educational contexts: Aboriginal English - series of short videos

Who are EAL/D students? (Video clip 1 of 6)

Heading: Who are Aboriginal EAL/D Students?

Heading: Effective EAL/D Pedagogies for Aboriginal Students

Adrian Robinson, Senior Education Officer, EAL/D, Aboriginal Education and Community Engagement

Adrian Robinson:
Who are Aboriginal EAL/D students? So ACARA the people, the organisation doing the national curriculum and all of those things, talks about different groups of students and it talks about EAL/D students as opposed to ESL. And if you just look at that bottom one here (refers to smart board) EAL/D students includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students whose first language is a traditional language, creole or a related variety or Aboriginal English and that’s really what’s important here today in the NSW context is the notion of Aboriginal English and looking at what are called non-standard dialects and looking at other ways of speaking that students might use that is different to school talk or book talk.

Jenni Tillett, Vice President, Upper South Coast, Regional Aboriginal Education and Consultative Group Inc (AECG)

Jenni Tillett:
Well I think Aboriginal English is the way that Aboriginal students, kids speak at home. It’s their home language and it’s a really integral part of Aboriginal students’ lives.

The Aboriginal English continuum (Video clip 2 of 6)

Heading: The Aboriginal English continuum

Adrian Robinson, Senior Education Officer, EAL/D, Aboriginal Education and Community Engagement

Adrian Robinson:
We’ve got this notion of a continuum, from most similar to Standard English and least similar to. And so what we think about is well where are the students that I work with or the students in my community along this line? Where would I put the X if I had to put a cross on the line to show where my Aboriginal student were?

Self Awareness (Video clip 3 of 6)

Heading: Self-awareness as a dialect speaker

Adrian Robinson, Senior Education Officer, EAL/D, Aboriginal Education and Community Engagement

Adrian Robinson:
This notion of awareness of being a language learner, if you are a second language learner you know that you are learning English, if my home language is German, I know that when I come to school and I have to speak in English I am learning English. But if my home talk is English, even if it’s a non-standard variety, do I understand that when I come to school I am a learner of this thing called school talk or Standard Australian English.

Accents and Dialects (Video clip 4 of 6)

Adrian Robinson, Senior Education Officer, EAL/D, Aboriginal Education and Community Engagement

Adrian Robinson:
So we need to talk about things like accent and dialect and all those kinds of things. What is an accent? I’ll say those words and you’ll know I’m not from here because I’ll say the words differently to a person that’s from here. What will be the thing that will make me stand out as being not from here?  Dance, Castle, Graph, Branch, Pasta? My vowel sounds, so our accents very much influence our vowel sounds. The thing about accents is we have whether we like it or not we have a response to them, we hear someone speak and we either feel nice and we have a positive response or we hear someone speak and we have a not so nice response or we might have a more negative response.

Adrian Robinson:
So think about this question here about the influence of teacher attitudes on these things. How do we perceive accents and what is our response to them? Now we think about a dialect, we know dialects are a version of a language that usually to do with where you’re from and also to do with your social class and upbringing. But there are some things here that we might think we understand what they are, but do we really? Do we have the same, this one here about shared knowledge and the dreaded discourse word, shared discourse, if I say the word football what do you understand by that word, what’s in your head, what game? When we use a word that it’s English, everyone knows what all the word means, cause we all speak English in this room, but we might not all come to the particular word or the topic with the same cultural knowledge or same cultural conceptualisations, what’s an emu parade?

Jenni Tillett, Vice President, Upper South Coast, Regional Aboriginal Education and Consultative Group Inc (AECG)

Jenni Tillett:
A dialect for me is a difference between, you know in a language a difference between how the language might sound in one geographic location to another, so just you know some slight changes, but you can actually identify where that person may come from in a particular language group.

Adrian Robinson:
The thing about dialects is this last bit here, dialects are patterned and rule governed so it’s not just anyhow. It’s a rule governed, patterned way of speaking. Compare differences now you can think of it in these terms or not. In what ways is it different in terms of sounds and pronunciation? A group of American people using English, a group of Australian people. In what ways are some of the vocab different, spelling? Any other things that might be difference there might be some grammatical things that are different in American English compared to Australian English.

Home talk and school talk (Video clip 5 of 6)

Adrian Robinson, Senior Education Officer, EAL/D, Aboriginal Education and Community Engagement

Adrian Robinson:
The next thing then is to think of home talk and school talk as two distinct areas. And what we have to do is think of, in terms of the students that we teach, move those circles further away or closer together. So many schools, many students in terms of discourse have the same shared discourse, home talk and school talk, and those circles get moved until they’re almost overlapping. And think of students in your school for whom that is the case. Many students have the same home talk and school talk, but of course many students do not. So think about in the context of your school which students have the same home talk and school talk and which students do not. This is a quote from that article where she actually disagrees with that. Their social talk and home talk is as well-developed but it is a different kind of talk it is not academic it is not school talk. Think about what does home talk and social talk home have and do? And what are the requirements of the school talk or more academic kinds of language?

How can teachers support Aboriginal students (Video clip 6 of 6)

Adrian Robinson, Senior Education Officer, EAL/D, Aboriginal Education and Community Engagement

Adrian Robinson:
The basics steps that teachers can take to support Aboriginal students I think would be firstly getting to know your students very well and making contact with parents and community and really getting to know community as well. You need to have an understanding of where students have come from and you need to be able to make connections and form good relationships with Aboriginal student and also with Aboriginal parents and communities because many people feel disengaged or they feel separate from the formal systems of schooling and I think it’s really important that we make links and we show families and parents and communities that we are able to build bridges if you like so that we can form good working relationships.

End of transcript

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