CDU student Dikul Baker has recorded instructional videos about online learning in Yolu Matha and English. Picture: CDU.

CDU student Dikul Baker has recorded instructional videos about online learning in Yolu Matha and English. Picture: CDU.

This university is one of first to offer learning in Indigenous languages

'Yolu-ising' the university': CDU one of first to offer learning in Indigenous languages

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A recent study puts Australia among the top three countries with the greatest number of critically endangered languages - but the NT's Charles Darwin University is pioneering protecting them from extinction.

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A recent study puts Australia among the top three countries with the greatest number of critically endangered languages - but the NT's Charles Darwin University is pioneering protecting them from extinction.

Researchers at CDU's Northern Institute have produced video resources in Yolu Matha to support speakers of those languages to access online learning materials.

Yolu Matha consists of about six languages, spoken predominantly by the Indigenous people of northeast Arnhem Land. It is estimated just 4600 speakers of the Yolu Matha languages remain.

Alicia Boyle, CDU's Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Project Leader, said the project is believed to be the first in Australia to support materials for online learning in an Indigenous language.

As the majority of university courses are delivered in English in Australia, support material is paramount for bilingual speakers, Ms Boyle said.

"Good support material is vital to assist learners from Indigenous language backgrounds," she said.

It is also doing wonders to ensure the languages are not lost. "We are hopeful this continues to make CDU one of the go-to universities in the country for Indigenous learners," she said.

Plans are underway to have support materials translated into other Indigenous languages including Kriol and Warlpiri - but it is projected In Australia there are more than 250 Indigenous languages and 800 dialects.

Read also: Unreliable internet causes headaches for remote learners

CDU student Dikul Baker, from Galiwinku, has been working with CDU staff to make the university's online learning tool, Learnline, more accessible to Indigenous students, especially those living in the Northern Territory's remote communities.

"I'm a student here and a way to improve things for other students in the future is to make the learning materials available in their own language," Ms Baker said.

"So we've been working to create resources and learning materials in Yolu language.

"I call it 'Yolu-ising' the university, we're giving a Yolu flavour to CDU."

In the videos, she demonstrates how to use the platform and the various support services available for remote learners in English and in her own Djambarrpuyu language, which is understood by most Yolu.

She says having access to support material in their own language will not only make learning easier for students but it will also open the door for future Indigenous students wanting to embark on higher education. "It will enhance their connection to the university and will attract more Yolu students in the future."

The story This university is one of first to offer learning in Indigenous languages first appeared on Katherine Times.

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