Bush plants offer linguistic and cultural insights

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Arrernte students at the Alice Springs Language Centre have planted 40 bush food and medicine bushes important to Arrernte people.

The plants are used by Arrernte educators to teach Arrernte language and culture.

Alice Springs Language Centre principal, Susan Moore, said learning languages connects with other cultures and “opens a window to other ways of thinking and being”.

“Students from several schools have visited the garden to use their eyes, sense of smell and touch, to better understand the plants and how they are used,” she said.

Local Arrernte elder Veronica Dobson said Arrernte and other Aboriginal languages should be taught in schools.

“It’s good to have two ways education, but learning about Aboriginal languages is most important,” she said.

“Early years’ to Year 12 students in Alice Springs, and some isolated students, are taught languages such as Arrernte, Japanese, Chinese and Spanish, by the Alice Springs Language Centre.

“Language education develops higher order thinking skills, advances brain development, and improves academic performance by promoting quick and strategic thinking.

“By learning languages we can better understand other people and their values, building unity and understanding.”

Ms Moore believes mastery of languages is a powerful preparation for interactions with international communities and economies.

“The ability to communicate in another language helps people accept, respect, and adjust to one another locally and globally,” she said.

“Language education helps students to appreciate life beyond the scope of their usual experiences.”

Bush plants offer linguistic and cultural insights
Centralian Middle School students, Colique Wiseman and Braydon Watts, learn about plants from Arrernte educator Crystal-Rose Furber-Swan.

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