Swan Hill Students Combining Technology and Culture to Give New Life to Wemba Wemba Language

By Swan Hill
ABC Mildura

February 23, 2016 – It is a hot afternoon in a classroom in Swan Hill, in north west Victoria, as Ruby Smith scrunches up her face in concentration, trying to remember a word.

She's trying to sing the Hokey Pokey in Wemba Wemba, an Aboriginal language once spoken around the Swan Hill area..
Suddenly, Ruby's face lights up as she remembers the word for hand, and she's back to the Hokey Pokey once again.
Singing the song is part of Swan Hill Primary School's Wemba Wemba language class, which has been running at the school for about six years.

Last week, Year 3 students at the school launched an app, which helps them to learn and practice the language on their iPads.

Stephanie Charles, or Aunty Steph as she is known to the students, teaches Wemba Wemba language and runs the cultural classes at the school.

Aunty Steph is from the Wamba Wamba people, local to the Swan Hill region, and said it was important to keep traditional languages alive.

“I think the kids that live here in Swan Hill need to know their connection to the land and the country and to know what group they are from,” Aunty Steph said.

“And I think it's also important for the other students to understand that this is Wamba country.”

Because Wemba Wemba has not been used for so long, Aunty Steph said it had been even longer since children had spoken in language.

She says that seeing what was a dying language revitalised is “heart-warming”” and makes her feel proud.

READ FULL ARTICLE: ABC News,. “Giving Old Languages A New Lease Of Life“. N. p., 2016. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.

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