Noting that learning Lushootseed in the classroom does not translate into everyday use, Zahir focused on how to create a speaking environment.
He said that language nests are the only known method that works to revitalize a language. He also mentioned that in addition to Maori and Hawaiian, languages that language nests have been applied to include Blackfoot, Cherokee, Chinook Wawa and Navajo. He also noted that modern Hebrew (heb) got its start with a language nest (see also Eliezer Ben-Yehuda).
His suggestion was to create a language nest in your home, preferably your kitchen. The steps he outlined are:
- Define the room or area where the language nest will be located, discussing the issue with all family members.
- Learn vocabulary for micro-domains, such as washing the dishes and cutting up vegetables. By working on one a week, a reasonable vocabulary can be built up in six months. Put up labels.
- Launch the nest, allowing only the target language to be spoken there. When friends and family members visit, tell them beforehand about the rules.
Once the nest is well established, language use can be expanded to other domains. Zahir also talked about the importance of maintaining motivation, and how talking to others in the home and the community about the progress of the nest and other aspects of language learning can keep people motivated.