Archive for the ‘language programs’ Category

French in Louisiana (but what sort of French?)

7 July 2012

In the sixteenth century, Spanish explorers began mapping the area now known as New Orleans and the Mississippi River. In the following century, France made claims and set up forts in the area. Control of the area switched back and forth between the two over time.

Meanwhile, up north, French settlers and their descendants resisted Great Britain in Acadia, an area now known as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. With the Treaty of Paris of 1763, the colonial powers ended the Seven Years’ War and recognized Great Britain as the ruler of Canada.

The treaty also gave Acadians, who refused to sign an oath of allegiance to Great Britain, 18 months to settle elsewhere. Many moved south, all the way down to Louisiana, where the dominant ruler of the time, Spain, welcomed them as fellow Catholics.

In 1800, Napoleon secretly purchased Louisiana (the larger meaning that covers what is many states today) from Spain and sold it to the United States three years later.

The Acadians in Louisiana, known now as Cajuns, have maintained their culture and their language to this day. (See, for example, Rebecca Wells’s novel “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” which includes French in the dialogue.)

As is all too common, French-speaking children were punished in Louisiana when the school board made a decision that French would not be allowed in schools. That was followed by a constitutional amendment a few years later which also forbade French in the schools.

In 1968, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana was established to develop and maintain French. Today, there are immersion programs to revitalize French, but, as elsewhere, it is a difficult battle, and the teachers in the schools teach standard French, not Cajun French (frc). Also, Council’s budget was slashed dramatically last month. Ultimately, the survival of the language depends on the speakers; outside of the classroom, there is not much opportunity or incentive to use French.

Read more in the article “In Cajun land, a reveille to French heritage.”

Salish language immersion graduation party

5 May 2012

According to The Salish Language, there are 47 fluent Salish (fla) speakers with an average age of 74. To revitalize the language, the Nkwusm Salish Language School provides immersion classes.

According to “Empowering our youth through the Salish language,” a graduation powwow and barbecue will be held on May 26, celebrating the graduation of eighth grader Coral Sherman from the program. It is an exciting event for the community and language revitalists everywhere!

12-year immersion program – Cherokee

3 October 2011

With the start of the new school year at the Sequoyah Schools in Oklahoma, US, comes an exciting development. Adding sixth grade immersion last month, Sequoyah Schools now has a twelve-year immersion program in Cherokee (chr), the first time since 1956.

Classes are taught completely in Cherokee without the use of English, fostering a strong sense of identity and natural ability with the language.

With the addition of Cherokee to Apple products, students are also using technology to learn and use the language, such as the iPad, a product recently provided to seventh and eighth graders.

This blog post is based on “Cherokee Nation Adds Sixth Grade and iPads to Bolster Native American Education” and “Cherokee Nation adds Sixth-Grade to Immersion School.”

Penticton Indian Band expands education options

4 May 2011

The Penticton Indian Band is part of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, an eight-member tribal council composed of tribes located in eastern British Columbia, Canada, and eastern Washington, US. The language of the Okanagan peoples is Colville-Okanagan (oka), though perhaps only 150 people are fluent today.

Steady progress has been made in widening language options:

In 1998, the En’Owkin Centre was moved to the Penticton Indian Reserve, where it began offering language classes. The center serves families and community members in addition to students.

In June 2008, the Paul Creek Language Association received a grant for a project that the Penticton Indian Reserve worked on, among others. The project was to create science and mathematics workbooks for grades kindergarten to four.

In July 2010, the Penticton Indian Band celebrated the opening of a child care center whose activities include language classes.

And last month, the Penticton Indian Band opened the Outma Squil’xw Cultural School, a kindergarten to eighth grade school offering language classes.

This is a lot of progress to be proud of!

Help Wanted: Language Project Coordinator

7 April 2011

Located in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley in California, the Nüümü Yadoha Language Program at the Owens Valley Career Development Center is seeking a language project director. The pay range is USD 45-63K and the application submission deadline is April 29. A bachelor’s degree in education or documented experience in second language acquisition is required as is a valid driver’s license. See further details and apply at Language Project Coordinator. The Nüümü Yadoha Language Program is described in “Remembering a Lost Language” on the Valley Voice Newspaper website. Serving five counties in Central California, the program provides language classes in: Kawaiisu (xaw), Kitanamuk (Kitanemuk?), Lakota (lkt), Owens Valley Paiute/Western Mono (mnr), Pakanapul, Wukchumni (Yokutsan (yok)?), Yaqui (yaq) and Yawelmani. In addition to classes for children and families, the program aims to produce more teachers through Master-Apprentice Programs (2008 presentation) and Teacher Training programs.

This job was found at Language Project Coordinator on the Social Service job site.

Indian Affairs Council of Minnesota Releases Report

6 April 2011

Serving as a liaison between the State of Minnesota and Native American tribes located there, the Indian Affairs Council of the State of Minnesota was established in 1963 and is the oldest such council in the US.

In 2009, the Minnesota legislature authorized a feasibility study on Dakota (dak) and Ojibwe (oji) revitalization. Last month, the volunteer working group issued the report, titled “Dakota and Ojibwe Language Revitalization In Minnesota.”

The contents of the report are:

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction: Language Loss
  • Volunteer Work Group on Ojibwe and Dakota Language Revitalization
  • Context: Language Immersion and the State of Language Revitalization
  • Working Group Responses to Issues Identified in Enabling Legislation
    • Directive 1: Existing Language Programs
    • Directive 2: Inventory of Resources
    • Directive 3: Curriculum Needs / Barriers to Teacher Training
    • Directive 4: Curriculum Needs for Teaching Students
    • Directive 5: Meeting Curriculum Needs
    • Directive 6: Creating a Repository of Resources
    • Directive 7: State Technical Assistance
    • Directive 8: Funding
    • Directive 9: Laws, Rules, Regulations and Policies
    • Directive 10: Community Interest
  • Conclusion
  • Appendices
  1. Volunteer Working Group Membership
  2. Surveys
  3. Models for Language Material Repositories
  4. Research Bibliography

A summary of the report is available on the index page of the MIAC, but the first half will likely be removed, so it is provided below. The second part is at “Minnesota’s Lakota & Ojibwe Language Report.”

  • Dakota and Ojibwe languages are in critical conditions.
  • The population of fluent and first speakers of these languages is small, and only a few first speakers live in Minnesota.
  • Virtually nobody who speaks Ojibwe or Dakota as a first language has standard teaching credentials.
  • Successful models do exist for bringing Indigenous languages from the brink of extinction.
  • More than 100 programs and activities in Minnesota provide exposure to and/or instruction in Dakota and Ojibwe languages, reflecting the importance placed on this effort by language activists, educators, tribal governments and the Minnesota   Department of Education. Few of these programs, however, recognize the essential pedagogic requirements for language   revitalization, which include a role for strong immersion programming and the leadership roles for fluent speakers.  Language immersion programs are crippled by a lack of trained teachers; a dearth of curriculum materials; policies that   adversely affect the licensure, training and availability of required personnel; and limited funding. Currently, only the University of Minnesota campuses in the Twin Cities and Duluth offer preparation for licensure for teaching across the curriculum in Ojibwe and Dakota languages; neither of these operates for teachers in grades 9-12 and subsequently languages are seldom taught formally at that level.

This post was inspired by “Minnesota: Dakota And Ojibwe Language Revitalization in Minnesota” on the Indian Peoples Issues and Resources page.

Types of Language Programs

5 April 2011

Since at least 2008, Our Languages has been providing resources for aboriginal languages in Australia and the Torres Strait. Funded by the Australian government, Our Languages has a blog, language lists by region and much more information.

One of the great resources is the Community Language Programs page, where you can search for a language program. Because there are many different types of programs, help is provided in understanding them. the Types of Programs page describes six different types:

  • Second language learning – teaching as a second language, along the lines of taking Spanish or Latin in high school
  • Revival – aiming to get community members speaking again. There are three subtypes:
    • Language revitalization – when the older generation still speaks the language
    • Language renewal – when there are no speakers with a full range of language knowledge
    • Language reclamation – when there are no full or partial speakers. Records must be consulted to begin.
  • Maintenance – working to decrease pressure against a language and increase pride
  • Recording – oral documentation of a language
  • Awareness – educating the community in general about the importance of language
  • Bilingual- building language skills and knowledge in two languages

One of the other great pages on the Our Languages site is the Resources page. One of the links there is for “Aboriginal Placenames: Naming and re-naming the Australian landscape” from the Australian National University E Press and edited by Harold Koch and Luise Hercus. The book can be downloaded free of charge as a PDF.

Coyote Papers Filled with Navajo

3 April 2011

As graduate students work toward their degrees, an important step in becoming a recognized scholar is the publication of articles (often called monographs). To help with this, linguistics departments may have a publication that graduate students can publish their working papers (papers in progress) in.

At the University of Arizona, US, the working papers journal for linguistics is called the “Coyote Papers.” Many of the monographs are available online, including the entire 2008 edition, which has six articles, all with a focus on indigenous languages: five featuring Navajo (nav) and one on the Athabaskan language family. (The Athabaskan family has a northern and southern branch as well as some languages on the Pacific Coast.)

The contents of the 2010 edition, volume 16, are:

  • Introduction to Navajo Language Studies – Amy V. Fountain
  • An Optimality-Theoretic Analysis of Navajo Sibilant Harmony – Stacey Oberly
  • Tone, Intonation, Stress and Duration in Navajo – Emily Kidder
  • Evidentiality in Athabaskan – Ferdinand de Haan
  • A Unification of Indo-European Aktionsart and Navajo Verb Theme Categories –
    Sumayya Racy
  • An Experiment in Computational Parsing of the Navajo Verb – Mans Hulden and Shannon T. Bischoff

Although the more recent 2010 edition and some other recent editions do not have topics on endangered languages, the 2004 edition is dedicated to American indigenous languages. Languages featured include: Aymara (family), Capanahua (kaq), the Ehe dialect of Kurripako (Maipurean (kpc)), Kaska (kkz), Nez Perce (nez) and Southern Ute (ute). Also, Erin Haynes has an article titled, “Obstacles Facing Tribal Language Programs in Warm Spring, Klamath, and Grand Ronde.”

For a full list of all the editions, see “Coyote Papers:Working Papers in Linguistics.”