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Wendy Baarda


Wendy Baarda is currently a Literacy Worker at Northern Territory Department of Education. She is an expert in, and advocate of bilingual education, writing on this subject in The impact of the biliingual program at Yuendumu, 1974-199, and A Pathway to Literacy in The Age, 2008. She also features in a 2010 conference video, Yuendumu School Two-Way Program.

At the time of her interview in the programme, Wendy was a teacher and teacher linguist at at Yuendumu Community School helping to produce Manyu Wana.

We had TV for about a year, or 2 years, and I thought it would be nice for Warlpiri children to have their own kind of show… because there are lots of English programmes for kids on the TV: they like those children’s shows and they count along with them, but everything is in English and the children are all from another culture.

I think it makes children want to be like those children. Whereas if they have their own show, then all the children on it are their own people, and then they want to be like themselves…and I think that’s much healthier. I think they have lovely lifestyle here, anyway.

I think they all love to imagine themselves in a rock band…

I just write down a list of words that start with that sound, and I hand that list to David and Murray, and Joe and whoever it is, and I say ‘Go and take pictures of these’. And they usually, they pick out the things they can find, handy… The kinds like to watch it, and they seem to be willing to atch it lots of times, whereas they’re not really willing to watch words and pictures in books that many times, and not really so interested in it.

Lots of kids are still not learning to read, and there’s not a great interest in school or an interest in books, but there is a growing interest in media, and there is a lot of interest in, you know, educational programmes. So I just think that some of the money that’s now being poured into a really European type of education should go more into things Warlpiri children, and Aboriginal children, do like, and do respond to.

I think people have a right to pick and choose of our culture what they want - and I don’t see them as necessarily being destructive, because I think that people are going to choose from the modern world what they like from it, and they’ll keep from their own world what they like of that.