Aboriginal English and Responsive Pedagogy in Australian Education
Keywords:Aboriginal English, Aboriginal EALD, responsive pedagogy and authenticity
Aboriginal English1, the language many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students bring to the classroom, represents the introduction of significant change into the English language. It is the argument of this paper that the linguistic, social and cultural facts associated with the distinctiveness of Aboriginal English need to be taken into account in the English language education of both Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous students in Australia.
The paper illustrates seven significant changes of expression which Aboriginal English has made possible in English. It then proposes a “responsive pedagogy” to represent a realistic and respectful pedagogical
response to the linguistic, social and cultural change which underlies Aboriginal English, drawing on current literature on second language and dialect acquisition and making frequent reference to materials which
have been developed to support such pedagogy.
It is implied that only with a pedagogy responding to Aboriginal English as it is, and to its speakers, will a viable English medium education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people be enabled.
1Aboriginal English” is the term used to denote “a range of varieties of English spoken by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and some others in close contact with them which differ in systematic ways from Standard Australian English at all levels of linguistic structure and which are used for distinctive speech acts, speech events and genres” (Malcolm 1995, p 19).
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