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High-tech classrooms in Australia reviving Aboriginal languages

Published on Dec 18, 2012 12:31 PM
Teacher Noeleen Lumby teaches Aboriginal languages to children at St Johns High School, in Sydney on Oct 14, 2012. Australia's Aborigines once spoke 250 to 270 different languages but best estimates now suggest less than 70 are still being spoken on a daily basis, with even fewer passed on to younger generations. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - In a high-school classroom in western Sydney, teacher Noeleen Lumby is asking her pupils to recall the Aboriginal name for animals that indigenous Wiradjuri people have used for hundreds of years.

As she holds up stuffed toys representing some of Australia's native wildlife, including a kangaroo, an emu and a cockatoo, the class of about 25 - many from Vietnamese and Cambodian backgrounds - come to grips with the ancient tongue.

"I like this because you get to learn new skills and you can speak some indigenous language," said 12-year-old Tien Nguyen.

Ms Lumby, who oversees the students as they use their new knowledge to create projects on computers and iPads, is passionate about filling a gaping hole in Australian education - the study of Aboriginal languages.

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