A middle approach to literacy in a minority Indigenous Australian language context

Year: 2004

Author: Auld, Glenn

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Kunib-dji live in Maningrida, a remote community in the Northern Territory and speak Ndj-bbana as their preferred language of communication. Kunib-dji are one of many groups of Indigenous Australian languages who speak a minority language. Very little has been documented about the social practices of literacy with speakers of such languages, particularly with the texts that mediate these languages. Knowing about the beliefs and attitudes towards enacted by these speakers towards these texts is useful for understanding the process of learning of minority and majority languages. This paper presents a middle approach to literacy as distinct form top-down and bottom-up approaches, that has emerged from the minority Indigenous Australian language context in Maningrida. The proposed middle approach to literacy incorporates non-indigenous intervention in Indigenous social practices and technological transform of Indigenous texts. The methodological aspects of such intervention and transformation together with the implications of a middle approach to literacy are presented in this paper. Throughout the paper references are made to Kunib-dji children's access to digital Ndj-bbana texts and their engagement with these texts in a home environment.