Master Apprentice Language Workshop (18-21 November 2013)

Research Network for Linguistic Diversity and Djidbidjidbi Residential College

In mid-November 2013 Djidbidjidbi Residential College (DjRC) hosted the second Jabiru Master Apprentice Language Workshop. Some 30-40 Gundjeihmi and Kunwingku language speakers were joined by speakers of Wagilak, Ritharrngu, Tiwi and Gamilaraay.

Gundjeihmi is a dialect of Bininj Gunwok - a chain of six mutually intelligible dialects of western Arnhem Land. These dialects stretch from Kakadu National Park in the Top End of the Northern Territory south to Pine Creek and Manyallaluk, across the Arnhem plateau and east to the Mann, Liverpool and Cadell Rivers districts. The five other recognised dialects of Bininj Gunwok include Kuninjku, Gundjeihmi, Kundedjnjenghmi, Kune and Mayali.

Delivered by the Research Network for Linguistic Diversity (RNLD) the workshops are designed to protect and preserve indigenous languages by reinforcing the role of Elders in language transmission.

The workshop operates on the principle of Masters (advanced language speakers) and Apprentices (beginner and intermediate language speakers). The central aim is to engage and teach the Masters how to transfer language skills to the Apprentices through step by step learning.  To support this learning the classroom is reserved for Bininj only. The use of English or Kriol is discouraged.

Initially working with the Masters, the workshop facilitators instruct them to use techniques and activities that develop the language capacity of learners. The workshop also provides an opportunity for beginner and intermediate speakers to practice their speaking and comprehension skills.

These workshops are a central component of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation’s Language preservation program. The program also includes the commissioning of a Gundjeihmi Language Dictionary (to be completed 2014), and a comprehensive beginner language course. For more information on GAC’s language partnerships please visit