Classroom English will be the death of Aboriginal languages

This Australia-based article discusses concerns around reducing the amount of time spent teaching in the local (Aboriginal) language down to a mandated one hour/day. Several reasons for doing so are listed, including the argument that Aboriginal employment is very low because education levels are very low because education is primarily conducted in English. It is argued that forcing students to learn in English will increase English literacy rates along with providing students with an education.

The author of this article disagrees with this strategy, noting that there are flaws in the logic, including the fact that low education levels are not the only reason for low employment. There are other reasons that can be cited, such as bureaucratic regulations requiring completion of literacy courses prior to gaining access to certain jobs.

Some of the areas of concern cited for moving to a one hour a day education in English are:

  • Poor attendance will likely become lower
  • Parental support may drop
  • Turnover of teachers may increase
  • Indigenous languages are further at risk

The article goes on to discuss the importance of preserving Aboriginal languages.

For those interested, several responses to the article follow it.

1 comment

1 Darren Roper { 09.25.10 at 9:01 am }

That’s interesting. Schools on the Kainai (Blood) reserve here have a Blackfoot immersion program for students in the lower grades. More and more English is introduced as the students go through the grades, jumping quite a bit by middle school. By the time the students get to high school they only have to take one course in Blackfoot. Grade 12 is all English because the students have to write standardized diploma exams.

You must log in to post a comment.