Parents attending playgroups in the Arlparra (Utopia) homelands in the NT will soon be able to read a popular board book to their babies and toddlers in their first language, thanks to a translation done by a local high school student.
Some of the older students at Arlparra School were already reading books to the youngsters who attend the Families as First Teachers (FaFT) playgroups that are held each day on school premises, encouraged by early childhood educator Christine Simpson.
Fifteen-year-old Errol, who is in Year 10 at the school, about 250 km from Alice Springs, was on the lookout for a literacy project for one of his courses when Christine suggested he might translate Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes into Alyawarr.
Using the new edition of the Alyawarr dictionary that had been compiled by community members working with linguists at the Institute for Aboriginal Development (IAD) in Alice Springs, Errol took up the challenge and set to work.
His mum, Trudy, the Family Liaison Officer with Arlparra FaFT, checked his translations. They were all correct.
The next step was to approach our team at ILF so transparent stickers with the translated text on them could be produced. These will be placed inside the board books, alongside the original text.
There are only about 1500 speakers of Alyawarr, but this exciting project will help introduce more community members — especially the current generation of parents and their little ones — to the written form of their first language.
What a great initiative! No doubt Errol’s translating efforts will inspire other students in remote schools to make translations of board books for the younger kids in their communities to enjoy.