Pama Language Centre works with First Nations Language Champions of Cape York Peninsula to record, revive, revitalise and maintain our ancestral languages.
If you are learning a language like English or French it is easy to find learning resources. You can also go to a place where the language is spoken and immerse yourself. You can read signs, books, watch films, listen to songs, hear the language spoken and take part in conversations. If you are learning a Paman language you will find there are very few books and most speakers will be of the grandparent generation. Pama Language Centre is working with speakers of Paman languages to create a universe of immersive learning resources and programs to support teaching and learning of our languages.
Pama Language Centre works with Ancestral Language Champions to stimulate creative engagement with ancestral language and to revive language transmission in the home and community through projects such as Painted Stories art and remembering workshops, Singing Back Our Languages singing and song writing workshops, sing along song clips, games and writer’s workshops. We also work with speakers to create scripted presentations in First Nations languages for important occasions so they will be able to promote their ancestral languages in the public sphere.
There is a pressing need to build capacity and expertise in First Nation language literacy. The development of a professional corps of First Nation writers, editors, translators and language curriculum experts is a necessary step toward ensuring the ongoing viability of Cape York Languages. Traineeships and careers in First Nation language publishing will provide a range of opportunities to develop language revitalisation capacity and to establish rewarding First Nation language professional pathways. Pama Language Centre actively pursues development of capacity, educational and career pathways in First Nation language expertise. We promote ancestral language career pathways, coordinate training and certification for translators and interpreters and mentoring for ancestral language authors and for tertiary students engaged in language studies. Developing pathways in specialist and academic areas is important to projecting a high expectations future for Cape York Peninsula people. First Nations language careers are niche career opportunities for which there is increasing demand.
Interactive Augmented Reality language immersion resources
Language teaching resources
Pama Language Centre works with linguists, pedagogues and Indigenous language experts to develop immersive teaching systems that ancestral language teachers and their students love. Students follow the eccentric adventures of the Ironwood kinship, who work with the language teacher to bring learning to life with songs, animations, games and stories. Students at Hope Vale school are so proud to have their own beautiful Guugu Yimidhirr language workbooks.
Painted Stories combines methods from language documentation, art therapy and oral history in the creative transmission of linguistic and cultural knowledge, delivered through workshops at community locations, aged care facilities and out on traditional country with Elders, artists and language experts, in collaboration with a linguist and an art therapist. Artists are now creating beautiful language learning resources from their paintings, stories and memories.
Online language lessons
Guugu Yimithirr language teacher Lillian Bowen and linguist Jan Goetesson are creating online lesson materials in Guugu Yimithirr language for adult learners. Each lesson includes video and sound recordings to guide pronunciation. These lessons are supported by a growing open online classroom. Lillian hopes this will help young parents, child-care workers and teachers learn Guugu Yimithirr so they can speak with the children.
History in Ancestral Language Teaching Resources
Books and EBooks
Pama Languages Press, a unique First Nations languages publishing company publishes electronic and print books and educational materials exclusively in First Nations languages. We work with indigenous authors to create high quality picture books and illustrated read-aloud ebooks for children, read by the authors in their own languages. These beautiful books support literacy in our languages at the same time as guiding pronunciation.
Pamamooves Lesson Builder for Fragile Languages is a shared library of animations – illustrating verb actions, changes of state, personal pronoun paradigms and cultural practices. We are using Pamamooves animations to create a wide range of templates for language lessons and teaching resources. All Pamamooves animations will be freely available for the development of teaching materials for revitalisation and maintenance of fragile languages.
Singing Back Our Languages
Song is an important medium for learning and sharing fragile languages. Our Language Champions say that singing in their own languages makes them very proud. More than 40 original songs have been composed, four song books published, and numerous beautiful recordings and film clips created. Two years ago there were no children’s songs in Guugu Yimithirr, the language of Cooktown and Hope Vale which is the little known source of the word “kangaroo”. Now songs in five ancestral languages are sung by children in classrooms, playgrounds and homes from Aurukun on the west coast, to Hope Vale on the east and Bamaga at the northernmost tip of the continent and in 2019 the Guugu Yimithirr language was sung for the first time at the Sydney Opera House.