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The Kriol cast of 'Little J & Big Cuz' at Ngukurr’s premiere
The Kriol cast of 'Little J & Big Cuz' at Ngukurr’s premiere - Photo ©Meigim Kriol Strongbala.

Indigenous language resources for children

ACER news 5 minute read

ACER is supporting the preservation of Indigenous languages through the translation of its award-winning series, Little J & Big Cuz, on screen and paper.

Episodes from seasons one and two of Little J & Big Cuz were translated into 11 Indigenous languages. Season three will see the addition of several new languages, including Ngukurr Kriol, Kunwinjku, Luritja and Rirratingu.

For the Kriol episodes, the translation served as a real-world school education project for a group of upper primary and secondary students in the Northern Territory’s Katherine Region.

Meigim Kriol Stongbala (Making Kriol Strong) manager Greg Dickson worked with 12 students from Ngukurr School to translate two episodes from Little J & Big Cuz season three: ‘River Adventure’ and ‘Serpent’s Eye’.

In an interview with Teacher this week, Mr Dickson highlighted the importance of children having literacy skills in their first language, and the need to include it in the local curriculum. He said that having resources like books and cartoons can help Kriol speakers to ‘feel good about the language they speak,’ and to raise the prestige, status and appreciation of Kriol.

Mr Dickson told Teacher that, in order to translate around 300 lines of dialogue, one-hour sessions were timetabled into the school day twice a week over two months. Students working on the project brought their own perspective to the translations by putting themselves in the shoes of the characters and imagining how they would speak.

‘We’d say “well, if you’re in that situation, what would you be saying to that person in your own language?” Because if we just had adults doing the translation, we could have done it a lot more easily and quickly, but you wouldn’t have captured that authentic way that kids talk to each other,’ Mr Dickson told Teacher.

The Kriol episodes premiered at a special sunset screening on 8 December at Ngukurr School attended by around 100 community members. They will be made available on SBS On Demand later this year.

Elsewhere in Australia, development continues on the translation of episodes in Luritja, working with the Papunya community, and Rirratingu, working with the community at Yirrkala.

ACER is also soon to publish a set of bilingual Little J & Big Cuz readers. Developed with the support of a grant from The Ian Potter Foundation, the readers will assist the development of oral language, word recognition, phonics and other essential literacy skills in children’s local dialect and English.

Little J & Big Cuz season three is a Ned Lander Media production for NITV and ABC Children’s. Major production investment from Screen Australia, in association with NITV. Financed with support from the ABC, with Film Victoria, Screen Tasmania and the Australian Council for Educational Research. International sales by the Australian Children’s Television Foundation.

English episodes can be streamed on SBS On Demand and ABC iview. A suite of free educator resources mapped to the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Curriculum is available on the Little J & Big Cuz website.

Find out more:
Read the full article, Indigenous translation project – from the classroom to the screen, in Teacher.

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