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Learning Program Meeting, Friday 12th May

Learning, Western Sydney University

Date: 11 April 2017

Learning Group Meeting - Western Sydney University

Friday 12th May

Registrations (close 5 May 2017) 

If you are unable to attend in person but wish to Zoom in (Similar to Skype) please email

Venue:  WSU new Parramatta City Campus (“1PSQ”), 169 Macquarie St, Parramatta (cnr Macquarie & Smith Streets), 1 min walk from Parramatta Station.

1PSQ is a tall office tower. Take the lift to Level 7 where we will be in Room 29.

Train instructions: from Sydney Airport, take the T2 Airport Line to Central Station, then T1 line to Parramatta Station. This takes 40-43 minutes door to door.

Driving: there is day parking in council lots or at Parramatta Westfield. One driving route back to Canberra is: take M4 west, take M7 south, take M5 west. Alternatively if M4 still congested, take Woodville Road south then Hume Hwy west through Warwick Farm and Moorebank, joining the M5 west at Moorebank Ave.

Accommodation: If you would like to overnight in Parramatta on Thursday night beforehand, there are several hotels within walking distance of the venue. E.g. Mantra Parramatta, Holiday Inn, Meriton Serviced Apartments depending on whether you are looking for a single room or a group apartment. There are other cheap hostel / hotel options near Central Station (e.g. Bounce, Travelodge).

9.30 - 1.00  Morning session 


  1. Know what there IS to be studied (i.e., what languages are being examined by field linguists and what their general structure is, 1-2 interesting things (phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics) that might be interesting to study from a lab point of view)
  2. Know HOW to study these and implement studies - what methods are available to field linguists (behavioural, eye-tracking, mobile EEG (?)) and what those methods tell you (reaction time, accuracy, eye movements)
  3. How can we start the collaborative process? What are things to keep in mind as you adapt lab studies to the field (and vice versa)? 

9-10am: ~6 x 10 min talks from field linguists on their languages

Confirmed: Rebecca Defina - Pitjantjatjara

Confirmed: Hannah Sarvasy - Nungon 

If you are able to present on another language, please contact

10-10:30am: Karen Mulak - cross-accent work being done, how it could be implemented in the field, what it tells us about language learning

Alba Tuninetti - using mobile EEG in the field - benefits, pitfalls, how can results inform linguistics

10:30-11am: Karen Mulak and Alba Tuninetti: adapting lab studies to the field, what are psycholinguists interested in, what information about other languages do we need 

Morning tea (11am-11:30am)

11:30-12pm: Evan Kidd - The collaborative process - how to get started, what it takes

12pm - 1pm: Karen Mulak, Alba Tuninetti, Hannah Sarvasy, Rebecca Defina: update on field collaborations (cross-situational word learning in Pitjantjatjara and Nungon) - what worked, what didn’t, possible preliminary results!

Lunch (1.00 – 2.00)

2.00 - 5.00  Afternoon session

Technology Session (1hr 45 min)


  • Identify what technology can be useful in the Indigenous context
  • Develop practical ideas of how this might be used the different teaching / learning contexts in communities
  • Go away with some strategies for evaluating apps
  • Go away with some concrete teaching resources
  • Go away with a better understanding of the app development process and how this maps to developing apps within indigenous contexts.
  • Contribute to the current UQ app development program through feedback and suggest future directions for this and possibly other projects

Session 1: (2.00 – 2.45)

Introduction (Mark to lead – 20 min):

Discuss what we mean by apps and their role in teaching Aboriginal languages. From the contexts with which participants are familiar, how do we see apps being used in a practical way to improve the teaching/learning of Aboriginal languages? Points of discussion:

  • Context: school context or out of school context; teacher-centred or will children be working independently; whole class, small group or individual focus
  • Learners: prior knowledge - fluent speakers of the language or beginners; age -pre-school, primary school, high school or adults; motivation – intrinsic or extrinsic
  • Teaching/learning goal: Macro skill to be learnt - listening, speaking, reading, writing; language knowledge to be learnt - vocabulary & expressions, grammar & structures, specific language functions, cultural knowledge, social knowledge, theme
  • Researchers: the role of apps in data collection

Present a range of specific apps, from simple to more complex. Discuss how these might relate to the criteria outlined above.

New app development – what is the process?  (Scott to lead - 25 min)

Creation of new dedicated digital apps can be extremely expensive and time-consuming, thus the wider their applicability the more feasible the development becomes. Scott will discuss the technical and developments aspects of app development. There will be a presentation and discussion of two digital resources developed specifically for indigenous languages

1. The UQ group game app/ Opie the robot.  Presented by Scott Heath

2. The Tjinari video game in the Ngaanyatjarra language. Presented by Inge Kral. 

Session 2: (2.45 – 3.45)

Adaptation of existing apps  (40 min)

There are a great number of already existing language teaching apps that could potentially be harnessed for an Aboriginal context. We will look at some existing language teaching apps and consider how we might evaluate their appropriateness to the teaching needs that we have identified. There will be 6 short (8-10 minute) presentations of apps that have been or are currently being used successfully in an Aboriginal context. Participants could use the criteria above to evaluate the features of the app that make it successful (possibly using a sheet such as the one below). I have also listed a range of other criteria that might be useful. I would be happy for feedback on how we might improve any potential evaluation sheet.

If you would like to take on one of the app presentations please contact to discuss along with an idea of what technology you might need.

We hope to start a collection of digital teaching resources that could be put up on the revamped CoEDL resource page.

Afternoon tea (3.45 – 4.15) followed by general discussion/questions/ideas

Close: 5 pm

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University