A growing group called ‘Friends of Bilingual Learning’ (FOBL) sprang up a few months ago and its members are actively involved in the debate over Marion Scrymgour’s decision to relegate the use of local Indigenous languages to only 1hour a day at all bilingual schools. While debates go on about the evidence for such a move and the lack of consultation with community schools, it is the teachers and students in classrooms that will feel the immediate impact of the decision when it is implemented next year. The Friends of Bilingual Learning have made available letters to the minister and a personal story written by an Indingeous bilingual teacher about the effects of making English the only tool for teaching literacy to ESL Indigenous students. I encourage every one to read her personal story, as it gives a beautiful picture of the way language is used to support learning English in the classroom and the local implications of removing local languages from the classroom for students, teachers and the community. It demonstrates another negative side effect of introducing English only teaching methods, the disempowerment of local Indigenous teachers.
Four hours in English – An Indigenous bilingual teacher’s experience.