An Australian town has come up with a radical solution to revive the local Aboriginal language – and has had some amazing results.

The Wiradjuri language is learned by about 10% of the population every week in Parkes, a town in New South Wales. It’s taught in all primary schools as well as high school and TAFE colleges. Learning the language has taught much more than words – it’s given people a purpose, sense of culture and connection to their community.

Ron Wardrop was quiet for a while when I asked him why language mattered to him. “We need to keep the languages strong,” he said. “Like a river, the water tells a story, it just keeps flowing on and on, like generations of people telling stories. If that river dries up, then that knowledge and that flow of language and culture – which gives people a strong sense of connection to self and country – is going to die away. And that would be a sad thing.” Ron understands all too well what’s at stake when language and culture is lost. “If the kids don’t feel they have a sense of belonging, self, Aboriginality, then they feel they don’t have anything. And that’s exactly how I felt when I was a kid.” (Source: ABC)

This story just goes to show that there’s more to languages than words – they can have a much wider benefit.