But while this might be a language class, it’s a far cry from conversational Italian or French.
The students from the coastal school are the first in their state to participate in an Indigenous languages program.
Delivered over a ten-week term, the program sees students receive weekly foundation instruction in the local Gurang language through the remote delivery system Adobe Connect.
The group also explores local Indigenous culture in a series of excursions, culminating in a trip to Thornhill Station, where they will participate in yarning circles and traditional cooking classes.
The classes are run in cooperation with the Gidarjil Central Queensland Language Centre in Bundaberg, an organisation engaged in reclaiming Indigenous languages in the region.
Gurang is one of 13 languages that the centre is currently working to reclaim, but there are about 50 Indigenous languages in the region that are at risk of disappearing completely – including the language around what is now known as ‘Tannum Sands’ .
“Toolooa is the actual language for that area up in Tannum Sands,” coordinator at the language centre, Stacie Saltner, says.
“But because it’s one of our endangered languages that we’re working on, their language isn’t up to that sort of standard to be able to teach it...”
Assisted by Des Crump, Indigenous Languages Coordinator from the State Library of Queensland, Saltner and her team spent two years developing a generalised language program that could be rolled out in Queensland schools.
“...it’s a framework and it’s one specifically for the Central Queensland region, so we can implement our languages around the curriculum...” she says.
And despite a few hiccups in the technology, early indications point to a promising future for the framework at Tannum Sands.
“...the kids are engaging really well,” Saltner says.
“[And] they’re all excited because it’s the first trial for them as well.”
Deidre Carey, a teacher at the school, says she’s also been impressed with the students’ progress.
“...they are actually picking up the language really well; they can actually write it, they can say it and they speak it in pairs as well – and the pronunciation is correct.”
Carey says the ability to interact with the target language in context has also been a fantastic experience for the students involved.
Where other language classes might have to travel to another continent for an authentic cultural experience, the Gurang students can simply hop on a bus.
“It’s an hour-and-a-half down the road,” she says.
The language program is already slated to return in Term 3, and Saltner hopes it will eventually be offered as a core subject.
“The biggest goal would be LOTE (languages other than English),” she says.
But bigger still would be the opportunity to extend the program to more Indigenous languages, starting from the younger years on up.
“...we’re still in the reclamation process as well, so it’s a push to get our languages up to that place where we can teach it [and] there’s a lot of work there in regards to that.
“But that would be wonderful to see, those sorts of programs run right across the primary and high school,” Saltner says.