LOCAL Indigenous children are keeping Wiradjuri alive despite a parliamentary committee putting a number of Aboriginal languages on the critically endangered list.
In 1788 there were more than 250 Indigenous languages spoken in Australia but now only 20 or 30 are considered viable, the standing committee for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs was told last Thursday.
According to the committee, it could cost $90 million to save the languages under threat.
But for the past four years, Wiradjrui Preschool has been teaching the kindy kids the basics of traditional language and director Karen Thurston said it had been a huge success.
The children are taught animals, body parts, please and thank you and posters adorn the walls of the preschool to refresh their memories.
“They pick it up really quickly and they remember it a lot longer than we do,” Mrs Thurston said.
“Even when they leave for primary school, they retain the language and still use some of the words.”
Mrs Thurston said it was important the children were taught “their” language and it showed a range of benefits including developing confidence and improving learning difficulties.
Language expert Stan Grant, who has dedicated the last 25 years to writing books and educating people on Wiradjuri language, said it was up to communities
to keep their language going.
He said some areas were struggling because people did not believe the language was there to work with.
“You’ve got to have people willing and keen to do these things,” Mr Grant said.
“Parents need to get behind their kids and encourage them with what they’re being taught in schools.”