Bilingual Education Policy in Australia Concerning Indigenous Language and Associated Varieties

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From the time the British first settled the continent to the present, the Aboriginal people of Australia and the English-speaking Australian government have had a rocky relationship. For many years, aboriginal Australians experienced much discrimination and racism. Like Native Americans in the United States, the Aborigines were displaced from their tribal lands and forced into designated settlements. This was all part of an attempt on the part of the government and the European settlers to eradicate Aboriginal culture. Though overtly racist policies have now been done away with and formal apologies given, much of Aboriginal culture has been lost. Efforts to revive it are now underway, and at the forefront of these are efforts to revitalize and recognize the importance of the many Aboriginal languages and their variants. Unfortunately the more current policies of the Australian government have failed to be consistent. Though they may appear to support bilingual education efforts, policies are often poorly implemented and underfunded. In addition, Australian bilingual education policies tend to be inherently flawed due to a focus on greater English literacy, rather than displaying recognition of the value in preserving Aboriginal languages.
Aboriginal Australians speak a variety of languages and language variants that differ in how much or little they resemble Standard Australian English. When European settlers first came to Australia, approximately 250 Indigenous languages were spoken (McKay, 297). Due to the repressive language assimilation policies that ensued, this number has been cut in half (McKay, 297). About 100 of the languages that still exist are in advanced stages of endangerment with a small number of speakers among o...

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