Language Centre develops exciting new resource

Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring announces launch of their new “Learn Miriwoong!” App

Kununurra— 7 December 2020Miljib yarrenkoo Miriwoo-biny! Let’s all learn Miriwoong! Today, during the Pre-Primary Miriwoong Language Nest lesson at St Joseph’s Primary School, Kununurra, Mirima Dawang Woorlab-gerring Language and Culture Centre (MDWg) launched their new “Learn Miriwoong!” App. 

MDWg’s “Learn Miriwoong!” app is based on the Miriwoong Language Nest’s curriculum taught in schools in Kununurra, Western Australia. It is a fun, interactive app designed for everyone who wants to develop their Miriwoong proficiency. The app boasts activities and games for each of 11 topics (teaching about 250commonly used words and phrases). These activities and games teach the user words, questions, and grammar, so that they can make sentences in Miriwoong. The app even includes flashcards, which break down the words so the user can be sure that they are saying the words correctly. The next version of the app is predicted to teach over double the current amount of words. This app is perfect to help students revise. However, it is designed for everyone, so that anyone can have fun learning some Miriwoong!

Funded for 2 years by the Australian Government’s Indigenous Languages and Arts Program, this app has been a collaborative effort between the Miriwoong Community, MDWg Language and Culture Centre and IYP Software in Melbourne. Project Linguist George Britchford and trainee Miriwoong Consultant Bryan Gallagher worked tirelessly on developing the app throughout the funding period. However, the main bulk of the construction of the app was only completed in the last 12 months. The app is made up of 15,690 responsive elements (i.e. text, audio, images, interactive elements which change size). These individual parts have been commanded, sized, tested, and built in record time, which for a small team and during the COVID-19 pandemic, is an incredible feat.

Many of the Miriwoong staff members at MDWg have played a role in the development of the app in collaboration with Bryan and George. “Learn Miriwoong!” features the voices of Miriwoong staff members of the MDWg Language and Culture Centre, speaking their language. In total, 15 different Miriwoong speakers’ voices can be heard throughout the app.

Despite only just being launched, there are already over 100 downloads in Australia which highlights the community desire to learn language. We expect this number to continue to grow in the coming weeks. This groundbreaking app is one of only a handful of indigenous language learning apps in Australia and is one of the most extensive, interactive and complex apps available for free. 

An interview with Miriwoong Language Support Officer and Trainee Consultant, Brian Gallagher:

What was your favourite about building the app? 

“Recording the audio and adding it into the app. Doing the audio for the syllables and games and flashcards. I liked adding the Miriwoong voices into the app.”

Why, in your words, did you make the app?

“We made it for everyone to learn Miriwoong. Not just kids or adults or thegoobeling (indigenous), or gardiya (non-indigenous). Everybody.

Which group of people would you specifically enjoy seeing using the app?

‘The kids at the schools. It would make me happy to see them happy with it.”

Are your family and loved ones supportive of your work?

“Yes. My family is proud and happy with me for building this.” 

What would you like to see for the app in the future?

“I want to get more community voices into the app next year. Not just Language Centre staff, but people in town.”