Bilingual Education in the Northern Territory 45 years on: really researching at Gäwa

Ben Van Gelderen

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper presented at Conference (not in Proceedings)


    Bilingual Education in the Northern Territory of Australia is in the middle of a mid-life crisis. It has always been a controversial and
    political issue, but despite formal policy allowing for its continued use, support theoretically and practically for its implementation
    is waning. There is also confusion as to which bilingual ‘model’ is supported by best-practice research. Working from a realist
    framework, research was conducted with the small, very remote, homeland community at Gäwa on Elcho Island to ascertain their
    philosophies and priorities around schooling and traditional language transmission. However, the most significant factor concerned
    the commitment to utilise the existing methodology of the Warramiri Yolŋu themselves who live on and own the land of Gäwa and
    beyond. Such an approach raised issues concerning multilingual usage, generative and transdisciplinary research practices and
    definitions of epistemic equality for genuine community consultation. This paper will outline the Yolŋu methodology utilised and
    problematize its interaction with western academic approaches, including its interplay with the realist tradition. It will briefly
    discuss the ‘findings’ of the research itself, to demonstrate that such a ‘Bothways’ methodology is synchronous with the issues
    facing bilingual education in its broader application.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages15
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017
    EventInternational Realist Conference, 2017: From promise to practice - Brisbane
    Duration: 24 Oct 201726 Oct 2017


    ConferenceInternational Realist Conference, 2017
    Internet address


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