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First Nations languages
The Indigenous language learning apps helping to preserve culture.
Apple acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. Artwork created in collaboration with Reko Rennie.
Did you know, that prior to European colonisation, there were over 800 Indigenous languages and dialects spoken across the continent now known as Australia?
Because of colonisation and Western assimilation practices, Indigenous languages were forbidden to be spoken, and in certain areas were never carried forward or passed on to the next generations within a family or language group. There are approximately 123 remaining Indigenous languages with speakers, of which only 14 are actively spoken as the first language by all generations in a given language group.
The ability to create and use language is unique to humankind, and through language we learn and share our cultures; stories and songs are key to understanding an individual’s world and their place within it.
Indigenous languages play a vital role in cultural identity, linking people to their land and community. Aboriginal and Torres Strait languages are not just a means of communication, they express knowledge about all facets of life, from family and relationships to philosophy and caring for Country.
First Languages Australia, a not-for-profit organisation committed to increasing awareness of the wonder and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, explains it like this: “Australia’s First Languages are a wonderful and precious resource. They are a bridge to rich and important information.”
Apps can help preserve Indigenous languages by making them accessible to more people to discover and learn. There’s not yet an app for every Indigenous language, but here’s a collection of some currently available on the App Store, and the area in which each corresponding language is from.
Barngarla is an Aboriginal language of the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. Explore and learn the language and culture of the Barngarla people with the Barngarla dictionary; there are over 2,000 documented Barngarla words and phrases to help you connect with the culture.
Arrernte is the traditional language from the Arrernte lands at Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and the surrounding areas of the Central Australia region of the Northern Territory. Indigemoji is a sticker set of 90 emoji representing the life, culture and language of Arrernte Country. Each emoji has an Arrernte name, including an audio pronunciation.
Emojis from Central Australia
Mutti Mutti is a traditional language of the Northern Riverina and Far West regions of New South Wales. Featuring over 800 documented Mutti Mutti words, this app allows you to search in Mutti Mutti or English, as well as search images.
Nari Nari is an Aboriginal language of the Riverina region of south-western New South Wales. The app features 27 documented Nari Nari words, with audio recordings of the correct pronunciations for many words.
NSW AECG languages app
The NSW AECG Aboriginal languages app is a helpful tool for learning the various Aboriginal languages of New South Wales. It features dictionaries for the Bundjalung, Gumbaynggirr, Gamilaraay, Murrawarri, Paakantji and Wiradjuri languages, plus games to support the learning and revitalisation of these languages.
NSW AECG languages app
Taungurung is an Aboriginal language of central Victoria. This touch-and-listen app includes 194 audio entries for language learning, with corresponding images and words.
Taungurung Language - Intro
Pintupi is a variety of the Western Desert language of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Wangka Kutju is a Pintupi-Luritja word meaning “one language”. It’s been developed by a group of native speakers to provide digital translation between English and Pintupi-Luritja. Speak full sentences in one language, then hear your translation spoken in the other language.
Warruwi is the main township on South Goulburn Island, at the eastern base of the Cobourg Peninsula, Northern Territory. This app captures the basic Mawng language in audio recordings and written words, allowing users to translate English to Mawng, and with the option to slow the speed of audio pronunciation to help assist learning.
Warruwi - Learn Mawng Language
The Wiradjuri nation is geographically the largest Indigenous nation within New South Wales. Explore and learn the language and culture of the Wiradjuri people. Browse the dictionary by letter, categories and common phrases, and search in Wiradjuri and English or use the image search. Award-winning journalist, author and speaker Stan Grant features as one of the voices in this app.
Yorta Yorta is an Aboriginal language of the Goulburn and Murray Rivers area of north-eastern Victoria and southern New South Wales. Search in Yorta Yorta or English to access over 500 documented Yorta Yorta words and phrases with clear and concise recordings of correct pronunciations.
Yitha Yitha is a language of southern South Australia. Discover over 120 documented Yitha Yitha words, with audio recordings of correct pronunciations for many. Search in Yitha Yitha or English, or use the image search.
Other places to listen and learn
You can also expand your knowledge of Indigenous languages with the Word Up podcast by ABC Radio, which shares the diverse languages of Black Australia.
Radio & Podcasts
For kids, Little Yarns, from ABC KIDS Listen, explores the diverse languages, stories and countries of Indigenous Australia, and ABC Education Good Mornings on ABC iview features children from around Australia sharing greetings in their Indigenous languages.