Archive for the ‘immersion’ 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.”

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.”

Where Are Your Keys?

4 June 2011

Where Are Your Keys or WAYK is a language learning technique focused on enjoying the flow and engaging the brain. Incorporating Total Physical Response elements with the idea that learners learn better with physical energy, WAYK is an immersion learning technique (that is, not using English, for example, to help teach) that has been used since 1992. In WAYK games, learners learn by copying the movements and speech of the person leading.

The technique gets its name because you can judge the language fluency of another person based on the response to everyday questions such as Where are your keys?

Developed originally by Evan Gardner and co-developed by Willem Larsen, WAYK is also an organization that provides workshops and support to help people spread language learning with WAYK.

To facilitate the learning process, ASL or American Sign Language is used during the sessions. Because of their visual nature, sign languages can provide important clues that aid the learner.

In the below video, David Edwards is showing Chris how to “play” WAYK, using Mandarin. This is the first time for Chris to play.


By the end of the video, Chris has developed a keen sense of how to use the language he has been practicing in the game.

One of the goals of WAYK is to assist communities in revitalizing their languages. While WAYK works best in a live situation such as above, they are also developing a video library for situations where live communication is not possible. Here is a video with a first lesson in Chinuk Wawa or Chinook Jargon (chn).

Chinuk Wawa 1: “ikta ukuk” from Willem Larsen on Vimeo.

It is clear that the person-to-person environment is an advantage to this method. Skype, a free videoconferencing program, is also used with WAYK.

As people gain proficiency in WAYK and can learn languages more quickly, they are referred to as “language hunters.”

WAYK has two upcoming workshops on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Oregon, US, from July 18 to 22 and from July 25 to 29. The program will help speakers of Numu or Northern Paiute (pao) revitalize their language.

WAYK has built a community in a variety of media. See their About Us page for Facebook, Twitter, Google Groups and other resources.

US Conference May 16-17

6 May 2011

In cooperation with the Grotto Foundation, the Eni–gikendaasoyang (Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Language Revitalization) at the University of Minnesota Duluth is holding Minnesota Indigenous Language Symposium VI on May 16 and 17.

Topics on the provisional agenda include:

  • Skits based on the popular Ojibwemodaa immersion software for learning Ojibwe (oji)
  • Teaching Dakota (dak) without using English
  • The importance of morphology in learning Ojibwe (the “sound-based method”)
  • Technology and learning
  • Inter-generational learning

Theme: Weaving Indigenous Language Through Family, Education & Community
Dates: September 16-17, 2011
Location: Black Bear Resort & Casino, Carlton, Minnesota
Fees: USD 175, 140 elders, 100 higher education students; USD 200 after May 11

This post was inspired by “Language Symposium in Minnesota to take place May 16th & 17th” on the Spoken First website.

Bodéwadmi, Keepers of the Fire

9 April 2011

Potawatomi (pot) is a language spoken in the Great Lakes region and Kansas in North America. It is spoken by the Potawatomi, who call themselves the Bodéwadmi, which means “Keepers of the Fire.”

According to the Ethnologue, there are 1250 speakers in Canada and 50 in the US. The APWAD blog says there are less than 20 in the US.

Along with the Algonquin, Nipissing, Oji-Cree and Odawa, the Potawatomi are an Ojibwe people, and one of the interesting aspects of Ojibwe culture is the use of birch bark scrolls, known as wiigwaasabak and mide-wiigwaas. These scrolls have complex glyphs (writing symbols), though according to Wikipedia, not much is known about them due to their secret nature.

Many resources are available for learning Potawatomi.

This post was inspired by “Endangered Language: Potawatomi” on the (sometimes outrageously funny) Languages Hell Yeah blog, and the many links in “Potawatomi language” on the Pokagon blog.

yəhaw! Lifting the Language

21 March 2011

Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 30!

Lushootseed Research is hosting the second annual Lushootseed Conference in Seattle, US. The conference will include information on language and research resources, as well as on immersion programs, and a variety of topics will be presented. The conference will run from 8:30 to 5:00 at the Lemieux Library.

The registration form includes an option for people attending for continuing education credits.

Lushootseed (lut) is a language spoken in and around the Seattle area. As of 1990, there were 60 speakers according to the Ethnologue. To learn Lushootseed phrases and stories, and to join the phrase mailing list, see Tulalip Lushootseed.

Location: Lemieux Library at Seattle University, US
Registration fee (incl. lunch): $50/$40 for early bird registration by April 22/$20 for students and elders
Sponsors: The NW Indian College Cooperative Extension and the Office of the President of Seattle University

News in Brief: Minderico in Portugal, SLA Delays Dementia, Speaking Latin

15 March 2011

Among the wonderful findings in the 2009 HRELP conference Langauge Documentation & Linguistic Theory 2 is a paper on Minderico, a language in Portugal. Titled “Minderico: an endangered language in Portugal,” the paper by Vera Ferreira and Peter Bouda describes the origin of Minderico as a way to keep secrets from others during business dealings. The article notes that with the pressures of Portuguese, there were only a few hundred speakers as of around 2006. One of the points of the paper is that there are languages still unknown even in Western Europe, where the status of languages is generally thought to be well understood. Indeed, the Ethnologue does not have a listing for Minderico. See also Languages of Portugal for dialect details of Portuguese and Portuguese Sign Language (psr).

A large percentage of the world’s population speaks at least two languages. Research now shows that in addition to increasing one’s ability to communicate with others, bilingualism may have the health benefit of delaying dementia. See more at the Telegraph: Speaking a second language could delay dementia by five years. It is not clear whether this talk is available. Although there was a talk scheduled by Ellen Bialystok in February at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the recordings from that conference have only one item by her, with a different title and other authors.

Latin (lat), the language of the ancient Romans, developed into Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and all of the other Romance languages. Monks and others in the Catholic Church continued using Latin as a written and religious language, and it underwent changes through those uses as well. For generations, pupils have been told that Latin is not for speaking, but that is no longer the case. For one resource, see Septentrionale Americanum Latinitatis Vivae Institutum. Their next large immersion gathering, Rusticatio, will take place in the eastern US state of West Virginia from July 9 to 16. The cost for everything except transportation to and from is USD 825. This news item was inspired by the blog post “Finding a ‘dead language’ alive and well in the Eternal City.”

Additional note on Latin: Check out the FAQ page of the Septentrionale Americanum Latinitatis Vivae Institutum. To get started in speaking Latin, their advice is to start by speaking. They say, “Make simple sentences with the words you already know – ‘Habito Baltimorae’ (I live in Baltimore), ‘Sunt mihi duo fratres’ (I have two siblings).” Although not complete by any means, two great resources for finding Latin words are Wikipedia and Wiktionary. For example, go to the Wikipedia entry for London, and find the Latina entry in the left column. This option is available for the London entry on Wiktionary as well, but also note there is a translation section that shows the Latin translation if you click on the “Show” button.

Immersion Schools and Identity

11 March 2011

Two references on immersion schools, one from last fall and the other from 2008.

The Heritage Language Journal‘s fall 2010 edition has a special theme of identity. The articles are available free of charge online. Of the articles, at least two bear directly on endangered languages:

The other is “Can Schools Save Indigenous Languages?Policy and Practice on Four Continents,” edited by Nancy H. Hornberger. Published in hardback in 2008 and paperback last fall, this book looks at four cases of language revitalization around the world. Coverage includes of the communities where Māori (mri), Sámi (family), Hñähñö or Otomi (family), and various Latin American languages are spoken.

The book can be purchased from Palgrave for GBP 55.00 hardback or 19.99 paperback, and from Macmillan for USD 85.00 hardback. The book is reviewed in volume 31, issue 2 of “Applied Linguistics.” An excerpt of the review is available on their site, or the article can be accessed for one day for USD 25.

Table of Contents from the Macmillan page:

  • Introduction— by N.H. Hornberger
  • Out on the fells, I feel like a Sámi – Is There Linguistic and Cultural Quality in the Sámi School? — by V. Hirvonen
  • Different or Equal? Policy and Indigenous Perspectives on Bilingual Intercultural Education in Latin America — by L.E. Lopez
  • Maori-Medium Education in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Current Issues and Challenges — by S. May & R. Hill
  • Learning with Differences: Strengthening Hñähñö and Bilingual Teaching in an Elementary School in Mexico — by N.R. Recendiz
  • Commentary from a Saami and International Perspective — by L. Huss
  • Commentary from an African and International Perspective — by N.M. Kamwangamalu
  • Commentary from a Native American and International Perspective — by T.L. McCarty
  • Conclusion: Commentary from a Maori and International Perspective — by B. Spolsky

This blog entry inspired by Indigenous School Based Projects, an article by Gina Putt on that highlights five programs.

Workshops by CILO – US

28 February 2011

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided a grant last year to bring together four language revitalization organizations in the US, forming the CILO partnership. (The grant is apparently through the Tides Center.) CILO stands for Consortium of Indigenous Language Organizations.

The four organizations are:

  1. AICLS – Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival
  2. AILDI – American Indian Language Development Institute
  3. ONLA – Oklahoma Native Language Association
  4. ILI – Indigenous Language Institute

The mission of CILO is to provide training for those involved in language revitalization. Their primary project is Language Immersion for Native Children (LINC) to focus in particular on language transmission to children up through age eight. Their diverse range of workshops are fee-based and open to all interested, including teachers, parents and other advocates.

CILO has created a catalog listing their workshops, and are open to expanding their offerings and locations. Currently planned workshops include:

  • A three-day workshop for planning/starting an immersion program. Covers such situations as home immersion, day care center learning and Head Start education
  • A two-day workshop on setting up a Master-Apprentice Programs (2008 presentation)
  • A three-day workshop for parents, grandparents and other community people working with preschool and Head Start children
  • A three-day workshop on computer and multimedia technology, including computing (typing in NA languages) and creating audio books
  • A one-day seminar for administrators

A wide range of exciting options for training the trainers!

The Pilgrim Greeters Still Live Here!

26 February 2011

The Wampanoag greeted the Pilgrims, showing them how to farm and assisting them through the the harsh, disease-filled winter. And they got together with the Pilgrims for a feast to give thanks, a turkey-eating ritual that became a US national holiday.

The Wampanoag have exciting news: After more than a century, they have a native speaker. Six years of age, she is the first to speak Massachusett (wam) natively in seven generations.

Documenting this exciting news is “Âs Nutayuneân” (or “We Still Live Here”), an official selection of the American Documentary Showcase and the Full Frame, Big Sky, Environmental, Santa Barbara International, and Vail Film Festivals—that’s six awards. Available for USD 19.99, the production tells the remarkable story of the revitalization of Wôpanâak or Massachusett—a case in point why languages should be classified as “sleeping” or “dormant” rather than “extinct” when there are no native speakers.

Today, the Wôpanâak Langauge Reclamation Project has 11,500 words (many from a translation of the Bible) in its dictionary, is working on a layperson’s grammar text, has phrase books, and is planning on opening an immersion school in four years.

This post inspired by the post Wampanoag film on the Replicated Typo site.