Jiyagbinggbirri Gooniyandi (Speaking Gooniyandi)


 On-country language and cultural learning for the children of Yiyili

Yiyili Community Aboriginal School
Yiyili Community, East Kimberley
March to December 2017

Jiyagbinggbirri Gooniyandi offers the children of Yiyili Aboriginal Community School  eight days of on-country learning over the course of 2017.  Each child in the school, from Kindergarten to Year 10, will have the chance to spend two days per term on bush trips.  The trips will be accompanied by community members with the appropriate Gooniyandi language and cultural expertise to guide the children in their learning.  This on-site learning will be complemented by in-school learning before and after trips.

There are estimated to be less than 100 Gooniyandi speakers remaining.  Kriol, the contact language of the Kimberley region, is most commonly used in Yiyili and is the first language for most Yiyili children.  Many Gooniyandi words remain in use within Kriol but Gooniyandi is seldom spoken in its own right. This project is part of a greater objective within the school and the community to move from use of single Gooniyandi words to using “meaningful chunks of text” in everyday life.

The learning environment is also important to the community. Yiyili community sits on Gooniyandi homelands and the community are passionate about ensuring their children are regularly taken out to places that are special to Gooniyandi people.  They want their children to continue to listen to and speak their language and learn cultural knowledge in the most meaningful context: the country it relates to.

The community school offers an ideal forum for these trips, providing coordination, vehicles, supervision and in-school learning support.  It is anticipated that the trips will:

  • increase understanding of Gooniyandi language among the children
  • increase the use of Gooniyandi language at home and at school
  • grow strong cultural identity for the children
  • increase school attendance
  • increase community engagement with the school
  • grow a bank of photographic and video language resources to support ongoing language learning


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