Volume 22, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
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According to recent survey evidence, Indigenous students, at least in schools where their numbers are significant, have not, in general, been meeting the performance standards in literacy which have been set for Australian students in Years 3 and 5. Among factors to which this is attributed are language background, absenteeism, lack of reading outside school and irregular completion of homework.

The above factors all relate the students’ lack of success to the practices of the student rather than to those of the school. This paper is concerned with one sociolinguistic factor related to school practice which, it is argued, is equally relevant, especially for students who speak Aboriginal English. The paper provides evidence that monodialectal education in standard English builds on an existing opposition whereby Aboriginal English is associated with cultural congruence and standard English with cultural imposition, making it difficult for most Aboriginal students to embrace literacy on the terms in which it is offered to them.

The principle of is already explicit (but not fully developed) in recent curriculum framework documents. It is shown how a bidialectal approach to the teaching of Indigenous students can advance inclusivity with respect to knowledge base, linguistic skill and social empowerment for these students, and therefore remove an important barrier to their achievement of literacy.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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