Language Nest

Rosemary, Stephanie and Rita teach body parts in MiriwoongThe Miriwoong Language Nest functions as an environment in which young children are exposed to new language experiences. While it is based on a model developed by the Maori in New Zealand, the Language Nest at MDWg is one of the first to operate for Indigenous languages in Australia and is also one of the newest initiatives at MDWg. It uses immersion techniques to enable young children to learn Miriwoong.

The aim of the activity is to increase the knowledge and use of Miriwoong in the community, with a focus on early childhood. Since young children are at the optimal age for language learning, we have high hopes of making a difference in the preservation of Miriwoong. By participating in this program, children will also develop a stronger cultural awareness and pride, improve their self–esteem, and increase their prospects of better learning in the standard school environment.

The Miriwoong Language Nest works in partnership with various organisations in and around Kununurra, including Save the Children Australia, Gawooleng Yawoodeng Pindan Centre, CSSU Kununurra Early Learning Centre, and the early year groups at both Kununurra District High School and St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School. Sessions are run on anywhere between a daily and weekly basis with each group, and there are currently over 200 child attendances in the Language Nest program per week.

We are grateful to Lotterywest and the Indigenous Languages Support program for providing valuable start-up funding for Language Nest, and to The Department of Social Services and the Indigenous Advancement Strategy for supporting the continuation and growth of Language Nest activities into the future.

This is what some of our partners say about the Language Nest

  • "The children are now teaching their parents/grandparents/guardians new Miriwoong words!"
  • "I have seen a great increase in the children’s knowledge in using the Miriwoong language. The way the Language Nest delivers the lessons is outstanding."
  • "[The program] is extremely important. It teaches children about Miriwoong culture which increases cultural understanding and respect for Indigenous culture."
  • "This program is building cultural understanding and respect for Miriwoong people and language amongst all students. I believe that over time this program will build confidence and self-respect for Indigenous children involved. The Language Workers are fantastic and they bring high quality resources and games to play with the children. I can't commend them enough for the amazing work they are doing to teach children Miriwoong."
  • "This program has been a huge success for our children; it's been fantastic to see our local indigenous and non-indigenous children learn the local language. Without this program for the children the local language would most definitely be lost…Without the local women delivering this program the language would be lost in Kununurra. I thank you ladies for teaching our children, the rooms are buzzing with excitement when the children see you arrive!"