Activity Introduction

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will investigate the way language is portrayed in the feature documentary, In My Blood It Runs. They will explore how language can be a source of cultural identity and political power. Using bilingualism as a context within the film, students will examine the interactions between different languages and cultures and how these create meaning in the film. They will then relate these themes back to the Australian context, to explore how language can have meaning and power in the community.

We recommend that before you teach this lesson, you have taught one or both of the first lessons in the sequence (Identity and Diverse Perspectives), accessed the free professional learning resource, which has been co-developed by Reconciliation Australia’s Narragunnawali team, and watched the film with your class. 

Learning intentions: Students understand… 

  • … how language is connected to place, culture and identity
  • … the context and significance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages
  • … how languages change and borrow from each other
  • … how language can be used for inclusion and exclusion.

21st century skills: 

  Critical ThinkingCultural Understanding

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 9 English:

  • Understand that Standard Australian English is a living language within which the creation and loss of words and the evolution of usage is ongoing (ACELA1550)
  • Understand that roles and relationships are developed and challenged through language and interpersonal skills (ACELA1551)
  • Interpret and compare how representations of people and culture in literary texts are drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1633)

Year 10 English :

  • Understand that Standard Australian English in its spoken and written forms has a history of evolution and change and continues to evolve (ACELA1563)
  • Understand how language use can have inclusive and exclusive social effects, and can empower or disempower people (ACELA1564)
  • Compare and evaluate a range of representations of individuals and groups in different historical, social and cultural contexts (ACELT1639)

Syllabus outcomes: EN5-3B, EN5-5C, EN5-8D.

General capabilities: Literacy.

Cross-curriculum priority: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures (OI.4, OI.8).

Relevant parts of Year 9 & 10 achievement standards: Students interpret, create, evaluate, discuss and perform a wide range of literary texts in which the primary purpose is aesthetic, as well as texts designed to inform and persuade. These include various types of media texts, including newspapers, film and digital texts, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, dramatic performances and multimodal texts, with themes and issues involving levels of abstraction, higher-order reasoning and intertextual references. Students develop a critical understanding of contemporary media and the differences between media texts.

Topic: Learning Through Film, Social Issues, Indigenous Education.

This lesson is part of the wider unit of work In My Blood It Runs.

Time required: 80 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate class discussion based themes and events in the film.

Resources required:

  • Device with internet access capable of displaying videos for the whole class
  • Sets of dominoes or packs of cards
  • Student Worksheet.

Keywords: In My Blood It Runs, film, film study, language, Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Indigenous, bilingualism, power, culture, empower, borrow, loan word, inclusion, exclusion.

Cool Australia would like to thank the In My Blood It Runs Advisory Committee who supported the writing of this resource. Special thanks to Alanna Raymond, Tessa Keenan, Stephanie Woerde, Esma Livermore and Julie Bover from Reconciliation Australia, Alex Shain from Shark Island, Maria Katsabanis from Australian Human Rights Commission, Renee Phillips from National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition, and Keren Shlezinger.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students understand... 

  • … how language is connected to place, culture and identity
  • … the context and significance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages
  • … how languages change and borrow from each other
  • … how language can be used for inclusion and exclusion.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • … identify words that have cultural significance in different languages
  • … compare and contrast scenes within the same film to ascertain meaning
  • … create visual metaphors to represent complex ideas
  • … analyse the language used in official documentation and draw conclusions about its usefulness for various audiences.

Teacher content information:

About the Film
In My Blood It Runs is an intimate and compassionate observational documentary from the perspective of a 10-year-old Aboriginal boy in Alice Springs (Mparntwe), Australia, who is faced with the challenge of balancing his Arrernte/Garrwa upbringing with state educa

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Student Worksheet

Thought starter: "Our language is like a pearl inside a shell. The shell is like the people that carry the language. If our language is taken away, then that would be like a pearl that is gone. We would be like an empty oyster shell." ~ Yurranydjil Dhurrkay, Galiwin'ku, North East Arnhem Land

1. Watch the following video:

Arrernte Language and Culture (

Write your answers to the following questions in Column A: 

Questions A B

What was the main message of the video?

Why do you think the young people in the video were so interested in learning the Arrernte language?    
All the people in the video were speaking in English. Why do you think that is and what do you think it means?    
Do you speak the language of your ancestors? Is it something you think much about?    

Share your answers with a partner and write any new ideas into Column B.

2. Watch the following clip from In My Blood I

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