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  • © 2017

History of Bilingual Education in the Northern Territory

People, Programs and Policies

  • The first book to document the history of this innovative education program and its unique setting

  • Draws on first-hand accounts by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal educators

  • Makes a valuable contribution to policy and practice in education for speakers of Aboriginal languages

  • Includes supplementary material:

Part of the book series: Language Policy (LAPO, volume 12)

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eBook USD 89.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-981-10-2078-0
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

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Table of contents (28 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxvii
  2. A Thematic History of Bilingual Education in the Northern Territory

    • Brian Devlin, Samantha Disbray, Nancy Devlin
    Pages 1-10
  3. A Glimmer of Possibility

    • Brian Devlin
    Pages 11-25
  4. Reflecting on Team Teaching

    • Beth Graham
    Pages 27-33
  5. Lessons Learned from Bilingual Education

    • Kathryn Gale
    Pages 49-60
  6. The Quest for Community Control at Yirrkala School

    • Trevor Stockley, Banbapuy Ganambarr, Dhuŋgala Munuŋgurr, M. Munuŋgurr, Greg Wearne, W. W. Wunuŋmurra et al.
    Pages 141-148
  7. Language Revitalisation in a Bilingual Program—The Case of Numbulwar School

    • Therese Carr, Melanie Wilkinson, Philippa Stansell
    Pages 149-163
  8. Defending Our Program at Wadeye

    • Tobias Ngardinithi Nganbe
    Pages 179-184
  9. The Areyonga Case: U t u l u Kutju Nintiringanyi ‘Learning Together’

    • Leonard Freeman, Neil Bell, Tarna Andrews, Peggy Gallagher
    Pages 219-236
  10. Policy and Practice Now

    • Samantha Disbray
    Pages 237-246

About this book

This book provides the first detailed history of the Bilingual Education Program in the Northern Territory of Australia. This ambitious and innovative program began in 1973 and at different times it operated in English and 19 Aboriginal languages in 29 very remote schools. The book draws together the grassroots perspectives of Indigenous and non-Indigenous practitioners and researchers.  Each chapter is based on rich practitioner experience, capturing bottom-up aspirations, achievements and reflections on this innovative, yet largely undocumented language and education program. The volume also makes use of a significant collection of ‘grey literature’ documents to trace the history of the program.  An ethnographic approach has been used to integrate practitioner accounts into the contexts of broader social and political forces, education policy decisions and on-the-ground actions. Language in education policy is viewed at multiple, intersecting levels: from the interactions of individuals, communities of practice and bureaucracy, to national and global forces. The book offers valuable insights as it examines in detail the policy settings that helped and hindered bilingual education in the context of minority language rights in Australia and elsewhere. 


  • Aboriginal Indigenous language
  • Bilingual education
  • Northern Territory Bilingual Program
  • Northern Territory education
  • bicultural education
  • ethnography of language policy

Editors and Affiliations

  • Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia

    Brian Clive Devlin, Nancy Regine Friedman Devlin

  • Charles Darwin University, Alice Springs, Australia

    Samantha Disbray

About the editors

Brian Devlin is an honorary professorial fellow at Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. His research interests include the use of vernacular languages in educational programs, interactive e-learning for isolated communities and bilingual education policy in Australia’s Northern Territory. He was a Visiting Professor and first holder of the Dr R Marika Chair in Australian and Indigenous Studies at Cologne University, Germany (October 2009-February 2010) and also Visiting Foreign Expert at Tsingua University in China.  For the last few years he has been a chief investigator in the Living Archive project, helping to create a digital archive of the texts produced in Literature Production Centres during the bilingual era of education in the Northern Territory.

Samantha Disbray is a Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University and the Australian National University, researching language in education and carrying out language documentation in the Northern Territory. She has worked as a community and research linguist in Central Australia and has carried out language documentation and resource development work with speakers of traditional and contemporary Aboriginal languages. While employed as regional linguist for the Northern Territory Department of Education, she supported schools with bilingual and Indigenous language and culture programs. From this experience she became fascinated with the history of the bilingual program, and its place in the history of education and languages policy in Australia.

Nancy Devlin is a lecturer at Charles Darwin University in the School of Education.  She works primarily with students in the professional teaching degree programs.  Her areas of interest are focused on providing an education for students that will enable them to have choices and feel good about themselves. She joined Charles Darwin in 2002 to help establish certification for students interested in education support due to her long association working with teaching assistants in bilingual and special education programs at government and non-government schools in Australia and the United States. She has also taught in China, Germany, and Papua New Guinea.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: History of Bilingual Education in the Northern Territory

  • Book Subtitle: People, Programs and Policies

  • Editors: Brian Clive Devlin, Samantha Disbray, Nancy Regine Friedman Devlin

  • Series Title: Language Policy

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Singapore

  • eBook Packages: Education, Education (R0)

  • Copyright Information: Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-981-10-2076-6

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-981-10-9521-4

  • eBook ISBN: 978-981-10-2078-0

  • Series ISSN: 1571-5361

  • Series E-ISSN: 2452-1027

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXVII, 375

  • Number of Illustrations: 22 b/w illustrations

  • Topics: Language Education, Applied Linguistics, Educational Policy and Politics

Buying options

eBook USD 89.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-981-10-2078-0
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book USD 119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 169.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)