International authorisation for the Little Kids Word List!

Good news – we meet an international standard! The Little Kids Word List (LKWL) is now authorised by the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories Advisory Board. This means that it is an internationally-recognised way of keeping track of young children’s language development in four languages spoken in Central Australia. It will be ready for families and health and education people to use soon!

The Little Kids’ Word List is ready to use!

A picture from the little Kids’ Word List

Go to: The Little Kids’ Word List

The Little Kids’ Word List is a fun way to see which words children know and say in Eastern & Central Arrernte, Warlpiri and English. It was developed from talking with families and recording the words people say to little kids. It will be helpful for families and for people in health and education.

It is an internationally authorised word list, authorised by the Macarthur Bates Communicative Development Inventory Advisory Board.

Talking to people about the Little Kids’ Word List

Vanessa and Carmel have presented about the Little Kids’ Word List at the Australian National University Culture and Language Education Symposium (Nov 25, 2021), and the Australian Linguistic Society Annual Conference, in a symposium about Australian Indigenous Children’s Languages (Dec 3, 2021). It looks like lots of people are interested in learning about the words that families use with little kids!

A picture from the Little Kids’ Word List, with the icons parents can tap on to show which words their children understand and can say.

Sound games for children

In addition to the Little Kids’ Word List, we’ve also made games for children to play that will help us learn about how these children say and hear the sounds in their languages! There are two games, which we’ll explain here now.

In the picture naming game, children are asked to help a little girl find her lost dog. In order to help get the girl closer to the dog, children see a picture of a thing or an action and hear the word. Then the children repeat the name of the picture that they just heard. Every time they say a word, the girl gets closer to finding her dog! We use the recordings of the children saying these words to learn how children say the sounds in the words at different ages.

In the listening game, children meet a child who is learning to speak their language. Since the child is still learning, sometimes she says words right and sometimes says words a little funny. Every time she says a word, the children are asked whether she said the word right or if she said the word funny. Using this game, we learn how children hear the differences between the sounds in their languages.

Children can play these two games in English, Eastern and Central Arrernte, and Western Arrarnta, depending on which languages they hear at home. We’ve tried these games out with a few children from 4 to 11 years old. Children like the picture naming game, and they enjoy helping the girl find her lost dog. However, sometimes they have trouble playing the listening game and understanding exactly what they’re meant to do. We’re currently working on changing the listening game to make it easier for children to understand and play.

We’ve tried out the Little Kids’ Word List!

We’ve now tried out the Little Kids Word List with the parents of 10 children, 5 girls and 5 boys. We tried out the word list for kids aged 1 – 1 & 1/2, and aged 2-4. It worked well! There are a few things we need to fix and the app developer is working on those now. Parents said that it was ‘kind of fun’, and ‘like a game’. They said it was easy to use. They said that they liked having more than one language on each page that shows the words their children understand and say.

Trying out the Little Kids Word List!

The online Little Kids Word List is being tried out with families! The word list is nearly ready to be used by families and health and education people. Before it’s ready, we’re trying it out to make sure that it’s easy to use, fun to use, and that parents think that the words in it are the words they use in their families.

We’ve also been talking with groups of First Peoples parents and educators who are interested in languages and education, and sharing our work-in-progress with them. We’ve talked with educators at the Department of Education Teaching Our Languages workshop and at Children’s Ground.

A sample page of the Little Kids Word List

Talks about the Little Kids Word List

The Little Kids Learning Languages team have been talking with interested groups about the Little Kids’ Word List we are developing. We have talked with the teams at Desert Therapy and Central Australian Aboriginal Congress Family Partnership Program. We presented a paper at the Knowledge Intersections Symposium at the Desert Knowledge Precinct.

Talk given at First Nations Languages & Health Communication Symposium

Josh Roberts, Vanessa Davis and Denise Foster of Tangentyere Research Hub, and Carmel O’Shannessy presented at the First Nations Languages & Health Communication Symposium on May 13, 2021, hosted by the Menzies School of Health Research. The talk, Ketyeye akweke angkantye akaltye-irreme | Kurdu-kurdu kalu yimi pina-jarrimi | Little kids learning languages reports on the method of this project: Tracking language development of Indigenous children in Central Australia  (FT190100243).