Understanding How Language Revitalisation Works and Co-Designing Effective Language Programs with the Local Language Community in the Context of Northern Australia

Project: HDR ProjectPhD

Project Details


My research seeks to establish theories on which methods of language revitalisation are effective and how contextual factors of program implementation affect outcomes. Language revitalisation programs address diverse needs of local speech communities through methods such as immersion, bilingual education, adult language learning, and language nests. While many types of revitalisation programs exist, their success is varied, often undocumented, and hard to measure. It is imperative that we gain a better understanding of how programs achieve outcomes, whether intended or unintended, in order to improve efficacy of these programs. Additionally, what is success in the context of language revitalisation? There is an expectation that language programs seek primarily to achieve proficiency or fluency in a language, however that may not be the main goal according to the language community. There are related outcomes of language revitalisation, such as improved health and wellbeing of the language community members, that are not often considered when determining if a program has achieved successful outcomes.

My research also seeks to establish a co-designed evaluation methodology based on realist evaluation, a theory-driven approach that focuses on not only what is happening in a language program, but more important why, how, for whom, and in which circumstances. Moreover, are these outcomes the ones that the community desires? Furthermore, in many speech communities, 'grassroots' language revitalisation is taking place (cf Warlpiri Light and Gurindji Kriol). These newer varieties are argued to have the same connection to identity and well-being as traditional languages. I will explore acceptance of emerging codes, such as Kriol, as well as how support for these varieties might help increase vitality in traditional languages. Understanding how language programs work, for whom and in which circumstances will enable development of language programs that are sensitive to local contexts and in doing so, are more effective.

Keywords: Language revitalisation, realist methodology, participatory design, language revitalisation programs, contact languages, Indigenous health and wellbeing, sociolinguistics, language vitality
Effective start/end date13/03/19 → …


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.