What is the project about?

This project is about the kinds of words, sounds and grammatical patterns children in Arrernte and Warlpiri families in Alice Springs learn.

We ask families which words they use with their children. We record families talking about picture books and playing with toys. We want to make a word-list-you-can-hear so that families can show the words their children know at different ages.

We would like families to play some games about sounds, to show the sound patterns their children are learning.

The project is an ARC Future Fellowship project ‘Tracking language development of Indigenous children in Central Australia’, funded by the ARC and ANU. It aims to identify the language development paths of Indigenous children in Central Australia by examining the spoken language, sign and gesture of children’s early interactions.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we meet and which our team members belong to: Arrernte, Warlpiri and Ngunnawal peoples.

Who is in the project?

First Peoples researchers at

The Tangentyere Research Hub (Vanessa Davis and Denise Foster)

Red Dust Role Models (Jessie Bartlett and Alice Nelson)

Children’s Ground

Central Australia Aboriginal Congress


PhD student Josh Roberts

Research team leader Dr. Carmel O’Shannessy



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