Supporting First Nations Languages with iPad - Apple ANZ Back to School 2024 Series - 1 of 3

As part of Apple ANZ’s Back to School series presented by Apple Professional Learning Specialists, Kiri Marschall and I delivered a session, Supporting First Nations Languages with iPad. I drew on my 5 years experience working with remote First Nations communities in Australia, and shared just a few ways to connect with students at the start of the year with some creative iPad activities to link with First Nations languages.

Regardless of whether the local language in your area is strong, or in preservation or revitalisation, see if you can find some local words for place names, animals and birds, or another popular theme is body parts. Kiri refers to the ACARA Languages Framework and some other connections in her

Below we share resources from the session for those who attended and want to revisit at their own pace, and also for those who are interested in how to support First Nations Languages and Culture with creative iPad activities. This post is for the Keynote activities, and Kiri’s post is for the Clips activity

Our first activity was creating Alphabet cards in First Nations languages, using Keynote, highlighting letter sounds or phonemes in different colours to support student learning. The example words I used in the demonstration were in Walmajarri language (foot and Freshwater Mud Crab). These are great for printing for posters and environmental print in your classrooms, or you can add audio and create videos, too. So many options!

Shows First Nations Alphabet cards examples with letters, words and shapes in First Nations languages
First Nations Alphabet cards example

The videos below are a demonstration of each activity, with step by step instructions that you can pause and follow along at your own pace.

Our second activity was creating a visual dictionary or Counting Book. We did this with Keynote, to extend on the skills in the previous activity, but they can also be done in Pages for exporting as multitouch books to Books. The example words I used in the demonstration were in Yolŋu Matha (turtle and crocodile). These are great for printing for books, or you can add audio and create videos, too. For a visual dictionary, type the letter instead of the number. 

Screenshot examples of visual dictionary with bird photo and letter and word and counting book with number, and words
Examples of Visual Dictionary and Counting Book page

Then we added to our Counting Book by animating our drawings and adding audio to create a video.

Imagine how these same skills could be applied to labelling local maps with local Indigenous place names, creating a book of animals and birds in your area with their names in local Language, or students connecting with their cultural identity.

We shared a few tips for working in First Nations languages, such as how to tap and hold on the on-screen keyboard to access special characters used in some Indigenous languages, and which fonts work best with these characters (see attached). There is also the First Voices app for some languages. 

Showing how to hold down keyboard letter key to see character options
Accessing special characters

We also talked about Auto-Correct and Spell Check and how if you work a lot in languages on your device, other than what your device is set to, it can be useful to turn these off in Settings when creating resources. 

Description of how to access Settings - General - Keyboard to turn off Autocorrect and Spell Check
Turning off Auto-correct and Spell Check

We briefly shared some more ideas on how to use iPads for First Nations languages, such as Digital Activities using audio recordings and draggable boxes in Keynote (see my previous post for downloadable templates and instructions ).


Screenshots of digital activities
Screenshots of digital activities

Finally, here are some Pages templates (attached) to get you started with creating your own digital books and resources. Note that you can create PDFs and books for printing as we did with Keynote, but if you want to create multitouch digital books that can be read in the Books app, you need to create them in Pages. The process is very similar, but export as ePub file.


Screenshots of template options
Screenshots of template options





All Replies

Posted on January 20, 2024

These are fantastic, Bev! 🌟 Great ideas and templates for others, full of creativity with simple but impactful ways for students to learn. Amazing work! 🙌

Posted on January 21, 2024

This is a fabulous post Bev...congrats on all the amazing work you have done with First Nations...and thank you for sharing...

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