About Margaret James - Author of the Honey Ant Readers
Hello! My name is Margaret James and I am the author of the Honey Ant Readers.
I am a mother, nana, sister and aunty, and I feel very grateful for all the opportunities I have to work with terrific students, teachers, assistant teachers, families and Elders all over Australia. I have worked in Indigenous education for 16 years, lecturing on Bachelor of Education and adult literacy programs; teaching reading and singing to children; writing curriculum material, story books and lyrics.
I have been fortunate to have travelled extensively, to have lived in many different places and to have studied and worked in many different fields.
It was through having so much fun teaching my own children to read that I developed a passion for teaching reading and for early childhood education, particularly Montessori education.
I have a background that includes:
- Linguistics, Psychology, Speech and Drama (Rhodes University);
- Choral Conducting, Voice and Vocal Issues (Qld Conservatorium/Griffith University);
- Montessori Education (London Montessori Centre);
- Education and English as an Additional Language (QUT; MCI)
- Languages (UNE)
All of these influences come together in the Honey Ant Readers.
I love teaching. I feel passionate about Early Literacy and ensuring fair access to it for all.
I have a Master of Education degree, specialising in Teaching English as an Additional Language (TEAL/TESOL) and have enjoyed teaching English to people from all walks of life, at all levels of print and oral literacy, and from many different countries, language groups and cultures.
I have always enjoyed singing and love teaching singing. This has been encouraged by inspiring and supportive teachers, such as Adele Nisbet at the Queensland Conservatorium. Studies have shown that pre-reading skills, as well as reading, are enhanced when songs and movement are part of the reading program. I like to teach English through singing when possible. It’s always fun and is clearly a great way to learn to speak another language. We often hear students singing the Standard Australian English HAR songs in the playground a long time after the lesson! Because of my positive experiences using singing, I have included songs in The Honey Ant Readers.
Aboriginal English and Second Language Acquisition became particular interests of mine while studying my M.Ed at QUT under some wonderful, inspiring lecturers, such as Dr Jo Carr.
I am a great advocate of Aboriginal English as a language in its own right. It expresses the culture of Indigenous Australians and deserves the respect given to any language. By using aspects of Aboriginal English in the books, which I refer to as ‘the language of the playground’, the text becomes easier for both Aboriginal English speakers and traditional language speakers to access and to learn to read. The familiarity of the stories helps learners to become involved in the books and to have a deeper understanding of them. I have been inspired and assisted by great Australian academics in this field such as Prof Ian Malcolm, Prof Farzad Sharifian, Dr Diana Eades and Dr Brian Devlin.
I frequently speak at conferences and elsewhere, and always enjoy spending time in schools, delivering professional development to staff, and working with the students.
I combined my passions, skills, interests, experiences and qualifications with the knowledge, stories and wisdom of Aboriginal Elders, with whom I have worked for many years, and together we have created an experiential, research-based reading program for Indigenous learners, of which we are all proud.