An Indigenous language app is now available to download (for free) on your iPad, iTouch and iPhone. FirstVoices is an Indigenous typing app with hundreds of Indigenous languages available.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) says that according to the 2005 National Indigenous Languages Survey (NILS) Report there were about 250 different Indigenous languages when the Australian continent was colonised.
The ABS reports that from the original 250 languages, approximately only 145 Indigenous languages are still spoken in Australia today. The FirstVoices app may be a device that helps to change that.
“We’re excited to launch this new piece of technology, which allows First Nations people to return to the everyday use of their heritage languages using their mobile devices,” FirstVoices Manager at the First Peoples’ Cultural Council Peter Brand said in a statement.
“The primary audience for the new app is First Nations youth, but we expect the positive effects of these innovative literacy tools to ripple out to speakers and learners of all ages.”
Those who have access to their Indigenous language through the app can now text, type, send emails, create documents and use social media in their traditional languages. There are over 100 languages from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US.
In September last year a new app to preserve the near-extinct language of Yawaru from Broome region in the north west of Australia shared its template.
"The app is wonderful. I’m learning my language from my [grandchildren]," Debra Pigram, a Yawaru grandma, said in a public statement. "The kids all learn from each other through the language app and try to outdo each other."
While they're not a complete solution to preserving Indigenous languages, these apps are a great initiative entwining native languages with technological devices that Australians use every single day.