Lajamanu boosts first language Warlpiri

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A Warlpiri literacy program is being tested at Lajamanu School. The aim is to build students’ first language reading and writing skills.

The trial began this year, and students are now taught up to four times each week.

The school’s teacher linguist Donna Nicholls said: “In helping students progress from sounds to syllables and words, and learn ways to build and decode words, the program is similar to Read Write Inc.

“We can know with just a short test whether a student knows three sounds or 20, if they can blend a consonant and a vowel to make syllables, and if they can put syllables together to make a word.

“Sound cards are used to teach the students. They have a sound letter on one side, and a word picture on the reverse. So a vocalised ‘y’ becomes ‘yankirri’ with an image of an emu.

“Students are hearing and practicing the correct pronunciation, contextualising the sound, learning to recognise it and read it, and learning to write it correctly.

“No books are used, but when students read Warlpiri they use books produced by the Bilingual Resource Development Unit at Yuendemu”.

Research by linguists, Unit resources, and the work of other Warlpiri schools were used to develop the program.

students at Lajamanu

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