Australian Indigenous language learner’s guides for revitalisation: language acquisition and materials evaluation
AffiliationSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Document TypeMasters Coursework thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Yu-Ting Chiang
Given that many Australian Indigenous communities have undergone language loss and wish to (re)learn their heritage language, and that existing learner’s guides for these languages written by linguists are limited in their pedagogical capacities, this study is set out to investigate the current state and possible improvement of learner’s guides in response to Penfield and Tucker’s (2011) call for applied linguists with an expertise in language acquisition to step into this area. Specifically, this present study first adopts the learner-centred second language acquisition (SLA) stance and interviews four community-based language workers to identify the learning goals and needs of Indigenous communities. The study also evaluates nine existing learner’s guides published over the past four decades with Tomlinson’s (2010, 2011, 2016) principles proposed for SLA materials development as the fundamental framework. Findings suggest that one of the major learning goals of Indigenous communities be communicative competence, which matches with Tomlinson’s (2016) emphasis. Additionally, comprehensibility is the most salient issue of learner’s guides at present. To compare the insights of the interviewees in this study and the results of the learner’s guides evaluation, it is found that the SLA frameworks adopted in this study can indeed inform future development of learner’s guides for Australian Indigenous languages, but the application requires modifications in order to achieve cultural appropriateness, especially considering the colonial history of Australia. Beyond learner’s guides per se, the governing principle of future learner’s guides development is to have community consultation, involvement, and ideally, initiation. Positioned as an initial attempt to bridge language revitalisation and SLA, this study provides novel perspectives to both fields, introducing a theoretically and practically informed approach to develop pedagogical materials for Indigenous languages and an insight into a less studied audience in SLA research.
Keywordslanguage revitalisation; second language acquisition; Australian Indigenous languages; learner's guide; materials evaluation
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