Building learning bridges
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Building language learning bridges
Language is strongly linked to culture, country and identity, and is integral to a child’s sense of identity and wellbeing.
Language is used to develop relationships, teach culture, transmit information and tell stories. As such, it is very important to recognise and value the developing first language of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and be aware that children may also identify with languages that are part of their heritage but that they may not speak.
In traditional languages, stories of communities, connections to country, seas, waterways and sky, spiritual beliefs and cultural practices are passed down from generation to generation. These knowledges are uniquely Australian, developed within Australian environments.
Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children speak:
- traditional languages — Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages that were present before European colonisation, and which are still spoken by children in a few areas of Queensland,
- contact languages — new languages that have formed since colonisation. These include several creole languages and dialects which are spoken in Queensland.
Contact languages may sound similar to Standard Australian English (SAE). It can be easy to think they’re not real languages and that children will automatically learn to speak SAE. But this isn’t the case and it’s important to build language learning bridges.