Spheres of action

When you have developed your vision for the future of your ancestral language and you know what sorts of things need to happen in order to get there, it is time to begin to take action. This section of the plan is about taking action to make medium term and long term goals happen, about who will do what and how and where and when.

There are many things you can start doing now to work toward your goals. There are important things that just one person can do to help save your ancestral language but the more people you can bring together the better. This section of the plan breaks up the kinds of things you can do into different ‘spheres of action’.

The spheres of action identified below, as well as the particular goals and actions relating to each, are interconnected. The idea behind breaking it up like this is to make it easier to think about how things connect, for example how what you learn at school needs to be supported in the home and how learning language at a very young age, which is the best way to learn, needs to be supported by parents who speak to their children in ancestral language as much as possible and by staff in day care and preschool who support the language. Breaking it up like this stops the good problem of language revival from looking like an impossible problem and gives us some ideas about what we can start to do.

At the top of the list are linguistic foundations and corpus building. This has to be a top priority because it is about making sure you have recorded every bit of information about your language and your culture in your language before it is too late.

  1. Linguistic foundations and corpus building (It is important to collect and record EVERYTHING to do with your language and to have as much as possible recorded with Elders and best speakers. Recording is a great project to bring young people who are clever with technology together with older speakers.)
  2. Working together (bringing Ancestral Language Teams together to work on language revival)
  3. Visibility of AL in the community
  4. Development of Ancestral Language literature (there probably isn’t much to read in your AL so it is hard for kids and adults to learn to read and write. Also, writing in your AL is an exciting and rewarding creative process.)
  5. Ancestral Language Pathways (training for Indigenous language teachers, language experts and language workers is a top priority for language revival, leading toward community control over language action.)
  6. Early childhood (home and preschool programs for the critical language learning years)
  7. Families (The family is where we first learn language. How do we
  8. Adult education (there are lots of different ways for adults to reclaim their ancestral language)
  9. School (a strong school language program will support language learning and achieve literacy in AL. It has also been shown that a good language program will make kids happier to go to school and learn their other subjects too.)
  10. Wider community awareness and support (taking opportunities to educate the wider Australian community about your language and get them interested in your language revival effort)
  11. Government recognition and support (taking and making opportunities to remind the government that you need your ancestral language)

Here are some ideas about these different spheres of action. You can use these ideas as a starting point for language planning. Talk about the ideas in the list, make notes , think about how they connect, cross them off if you don’t think they apply to your language situation, add your own ideas.

Linguistic foundations and corpus building


  • To develop AL into a teachable language.
  • To develop AL as a written language.
  • To expand the contexts in which AL can be used.
  • To develop AL corpus.


  • identify and work with best speakers to complete linguistic recording
  • work with speakers to standardize orthography
  • to develop dictionaries as far as is possible.
  • to work with speakers to develop new vocabulary where necessary and appropriate, to make decisions about expanding and extending the meanings of AL expressions, where appropriate and useful and in which cases English loan words may be acceptable.
  • to work with speakers to explore and record all idioms and usages.
  • to work with speakers to record oral literature and develop new literature to demonstrate all examples of usage
  • what else?

Working together

If there are enough people interested in language revival (which may not be the case at this stage or in the case of your language), you should try to get together a group of people who want to work on language revival in various ways.

Depending on how many of you there are you could form one Ancestral Language Action Team or separate teams for different language revival projects associated with each of these spheres of action.

Visibility of AL in the village

Goal: To develop, promote and expand use of ancestral language in the village via:

  • Signage
  • greeting cards
  • Newsletters
  • Radio
  • Competitions
  • Church
  • Groups
  • What else?

If you want to do any of these things, or have new ideas, set up an AL Action Team to make it happen. If you need resources to do it, run a fundraiser, approach the council or talk about it with your ALF.

> Literature and Pathways