Did you know there are around 7,000 languages spoken across the globe?
Of those, more than 4,000 are Indigenous First Languages, the native tongues of over 370 million Indigenous peoples worldwide.
Each of these languages carries with it thousands of years of world history, culture and human achievement.
Yet, today these languages are in imminent danger, with the world losing one Indigenous Language every fortnight.
Each language lost is a culture vanished, a people forgotten, and the loss of another piece of the spectrum of human experience.
Sadly, the situation is most dire here in Australia. Home to more than 250 Indigenous First Languages, today Australia’s rich linguistic diversity is severely threatened with languages disappearing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the world. There are now less than 120 Indigenous Languages spoken, with only 13 considered strong.
But there is hope.
In 2019, the United Nations declared a Year of Indigenous Languages, leading to an outpouring of global support, action and awareness around this critical issue.
Building on the success and accomplishments achieved in that year as a key outcome, the United Nations has designated the period between 2022-2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages.
Calling on the world to ‘take urgent steps at the national and international level’, the UN seeks to leverage the current momentum, empowering Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to come together to drive key programs, campaigns and resource mobilisation in support of Indigenous languages worldwide.
The benefits of fostering environments where Indigenous First Languages can thrive go far beyond simply preserving the language.
The right of Indigenous peoples to have an education in their mother tongue and to participate in public life using their language is a fundamental human right. It is also the key to realising socially inclusive and cohesive societies where sustainable development, environmental preservation, peace and social justice flourish.
As a long-time active participant in this space, The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation is a strong supporter of this global campaign.
With a vision to bring about change by merging innovation, traditional knowledge, community leadership and technology, ALNF’s Indigenous First Language program is at the forefront of this movement.
Our ongoing commitment to the preservation, revitalisation and promotion of Australia’s Indigenous First Languages has been brought to life through our multi award-winning Living First Language Platform, the development of interactive digital literacy game apps for youth and community, and the creation of dynamic literacy and educational resources and teaching strategies in a number of oral languages, embedding our signature Two-Way approach to early language and literacy.
ALNF’s community-led philosophy is at the heart of this portfolio of work. As custodians of these valuable cultural and linguistic assets, we firmly believe that any effort to preserve First Languages must be driven by Indigenous Elders and communities.
Learn more about ALNF’s Indigenous First Language program here.
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