Snapchat partners with First Languages to help young people engage with Indigenous languages

Wakka Wakka descendant and First Languages Australia Young Champion, Ms Annalee Pope (Image Credit: Supplied).

SNAPCHAT has partnered with First Languages Australia to launch a series of “language learning lenses” to help raise awareness and educate young people on Australia’s first languages and Indigenous culture.

Australia is home to more than 750 distinct Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, many of which are now endangered.

First Languages Australia encourages communication between communities, the government and key partners whose work can impact Indigenous languages.

First Languages Australia CEO, Mr Beau Williams, said it is so important that we continue to support and promote the languages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“We know millions of young Aussies use Snapchat every day – so this is an incredible opportunity for them to experience our First Nations’ languages in a fun and interactive way on a platform that they love.

“This project will boost recognition of our languages globally and will support our grassroots programs and help to engage our young people,” Mr Williams said.

The language learning lenses uses augmented reality and machine learning to identify different objects and display their name in four languages: Wiradjuri (central New South Wales), Yugambeh (south-east Queensland), Wakka Wakka (central Queensland) and Yawuru (Broome in Western Australia).

Over 170 objects across the four languages will be available at launch, providing Indigenous word translations for common day objects such as ‘ear’ (‘wudha’ in Wiradjuri), ‘spider’ (‘wanggarranggarra’ in Yawuru) and ‘hat’ (‘binka’ in Yugambeh).

Snap Inc.’s General Manager for the Asia-Pacific region, Ms Katheryn Carter, said that Snapchat was thrilled to collaborate with First Languages Australia, and hoped these “lenses” represent our small part in supporting Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in a unique way.

“We believe the camera is a powerful tool for discovery and learning, and these lenses are such a great example of that.

“The history, culture and languages of our Indigenous people are rich, diverse and meaningful – it’s so important that we honour and share them with the next generation of young Australians,” Ms Carter added.

The lenses are accessible globally by searching “Learn Wiradjuri”, “Learn Yugambeh”, “Learn Wakka Wakka” or “Learn Yawuru”, or scanning the Snapcodes below.

Snapchatters just have to point their cameras at an object to scan it, and the lens automatically displays the object’s English and Indigenous language names in real-time, along with an audible clip of the word to help with pronunciation.

Wakka Wakka descendant and First Languages Australia Young Champion, Ms Annalee Pope, added: “We are so proud of our heritage and hope that the Wakka Wakka language will live on for future generations.

“My hope is that being able to see and share their language through Snapchat will encourage

our people and others to learn more and give them an opportunity to share their language and culture with their friends, family and community,” Ms Pope said.

Yugambeh descendant and First Languages Australia Young Champion, Mr Shaun Davies, said that in the old days, our Elders taught lingo by the campfire.

“But the camp has changed, and the fire that people stare every day at is not the same,” Mr Davies said.

“Technology has become a central place in the home and now our lingo needs to go there if it is to survive for mobo jahjum (future generations).”

● Using the Snapchat camera, scan the above Snapcodes to activate the Lens
● Scan an object to see the word in the indigenous language

2022 also marks the beginning of the United Nations’ Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032).

UNESCO aims to build a global community for the preservation, revitalisation and support of indigenous languages worldwide.

Snapchatters will also be able to swipe up to learn more about these languages from the First Languages Australia website.

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