Indigenous leaders have slammed some of the phrases suggested as Aboriginal terms as patronising.
Indigenous leaders have slammed some of the phrases suggested as Aboriginal terms as patronising.

Schools to teach ‘Aboriginal English’ like ‘sista’ and ‘cuz’

SCHOOL students learning foreign languages will be taught "Aboriginal English" phrases - including the words "sista, brutha, bro and cuz" - under curriculum changes.

New syllabuses developed by the NSW Education Standards Authority require indigenous culture to be part of every subject.

But indigenous leaders have slammed some of the phrases suggested as Aboriginal terms as patronising, while education experts said including them was tokenistic and too hard for kids to learn.

The changes require students from Kindergarten to Year 10 learning languages such as Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and French to compare speech sounds, slang and "loan words" such as kookaburra and kangaroo from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ­languages.

Some of the new syllabuses were introduced to Year 7 and 8 classes this year, with the ­remainder to be rolled out to all schools in the next two years.

The guides suggest ways for teachers to link Aboriginal culture to lessons, including discussing Dreaming Time stories in Arabic, and learning words such as kookaburra and kangaroo in Vietnamese.

Country Liberal Party candidate for Lingiari in the NT Jacinta Price says the move doesn’t make sense. Picture: AAP
Country Liberal Party candidate for Lingiari in the NT Jacinta Price says the move doesn’t make sense. Picture: AAP

The new Chinese syllabus suggests teachers encourage students to compare "cultur­ally specific terms and phrases" including "mate" in "Australian English" and "sista, brutha, bro, cuz, Aunty and Uncle" in "Aboriginal English".

Indigenous histories and cultures must be linked to all subject areas as one of three nationally recognised cross-curriculum priorities.

Alice Springs councillor ­Jacinta Price said linking foreign languages with "no ­association" to indigenous culture "doesn't make sense".

"It's an absolutely ridiculous idea, and it's almost an ­insult to indigenous culture to shoehorn it into the curriculum in this superficial way," she said. "Indigenous culture is very complex, and it is hard enough to learn about it in ­English, let alone in a foreign language."

Dr Kevin Donnelly, a senior research fellow at the Australian Catholic University, said inserting complex content into lessons "compromised" students' ability to learn.

He said the references to Australian indigenous languages were "tokenistic". "It gives a very superficial and fragmented view of Aboriginal culture and history," he said.

A spokesman for the standards authority said the curriculum was being reviewed for the first time in 30 years.



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