Wilmott pupils' classes to end language barrier

Willmot Public School will introduce Aboriginal English lessons next week to help teachers and students recognise significant differences between the language and standard English.

Assistant principal Stephen Bingon hopes the lessons will allow the more than 25 per cent of students with Aboriginal heritage to better grasp what is going on in the classroom.

He said verbs, tenses and articles were very different in Aboriginal and standard English.

"If you don't understand those differences then quite simple communication between the classroom teacher and the student can create a big language gap," he said.

"A lot of people would see Aboriginal English as incorrect English, but they don't appreciate there is a significant vocabulary difference.

"Teachers often correct it, but if that child had been an Asian student speaking Mandarin, then the teacher would recognise the first language [and model an appropriate response instead]."

Aboriginal education officer Sandra Hickey said Aboriginal English originated to connect Aboriginal people to employment with white settlers, and is a dialect that all clans speak.

She said pupils who came to Willmot from Walgett and other areas of north-west NSW sometimes had "a hard time" understanding standard English.

"To meet someone on the flat means we're talking about a flat piece of land, not a block of units," Mrs Hickey said.

"A windy day to us is a pretty scary time. Ask a Koori kid to write a sentence about a windy day, and he's going to write about something that he's afraid of rather than a strong wind outside that's really blowing the leaves."

Pupils from kindergarten to year 2 will learn vocabulary and phrasing through spoken word and written texts. The program will also reach years 3 to 6.

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