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Title: Yolŋu Matha and English Learning at Galiwin'ku, an Indigenous Community in North-east Arnhem Land
Contributor(s): Hill, Stephen (author); Ellis, Elizabeth  (supervisor)orcid ; Reid, Nicholas J  (supervisor)orcid 
Conferred Date: 2009
Copyright Date: 2008
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: Government first provided education to students living in remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, in the 1950s. After 50 years, numerous government reports show that the vast majority of Indigenous students in remote communities do not succeed in learning basic English, literacy and numeracy. Galiwin'ku is a large Northern Territory Aboriginal community or township on Elcho Island, North-east Arnhem Land. Nearly all of the Aboriginal people there speak an Indigenous language (Yolŋu Matha) as their first language(s). Most students begin school with little or no knowledge of English language. The school at Galiwin'ku, Shepherdson College, is an accredited Two Way or bilingual school. Higher achieving students in remote Indigenous schools generally achieve just below Australian benchmark levels in numeracy at grade 3, but fall further behind by grade 5. Student achievements at school level off in most aspects of the curriculum. Many, if not most high school age Indigenous students, remain at around grade 3 levels of English and literacy and numeracy competency (Public Accounts Committee 1996) (PAC). The questions this thesis seeks to address are: do the Indigenous children at Galiwin'ku learn their own language thoroughly, to age appropriate norms? If the students 'are' learning their own language to age appropriate norms, what are they doing in English? Does the data gathered on the students' English give insights into how educators might assist the students in learning English better? Are there linguistic and/or other factors, which might be constraining Indigenous students from learning English (and literacy and numeracy) at Galiwin'ku? The study involved recording children describing pictures from storybooks and cartoons in Yolŋu Matha and English. Teachers at the school were asked to complete questionnaires (voluntary) about their qualifications, experience and views on teaching in an ESL situation in an Indigenous school. Factors that affect Indigenous children from succeeding at school were investigated from government reports of inquiries into Indigenous education and health.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 200401 Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics
Rights Statement: Copyright 2008 - Stephen Hill
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
Appears in Collections:School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Thesis Doctoral

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