Archive for the ‘language nests’ Category

Opposition to lottery system for kindergarten in Hawai’i

11 May 2013

As outlined in “Pūnana Leo,” the introduction of the language nest in Hawai’i, using Hawaiian as the medium of instruction, faced many legal and social hurdles. According to the ʻAha Pūnana Leo website, there are now 21 immersion schools in Hawaiʻi, educating about 2,000 students from preschool through twelfth grade.

Educating keiki, or children, in Hawaiian has become so popular that in Pāʻia, they ran out of space in the program. With space for 40 children, applications were received for 53 children. Pāʻia Elementary School decided to hold a lottery to decide which children would be admitted.

But the idea of a lottery is opposed by Nā Leo Kākoʻo O Maui, a not-for-profit organization that supports Hawaiian language immersion. According to Kaheleonolani Dukelow, an organizer for a demonstration against the lottery, a lottery would never be held to determine which children are given an English education, and so it isn’t right to hold a lottery for Hawaiian education.

Read more in “Hawaiian Immersion Lottery at Pāʻia School Postponed.”

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Kiowa – language nesting at home

24 April 2013

According to the Ethnologue, Kiowa (kio) had 400 speakers as of 2007. According to “Modina Waters using children’s story book to keep Kiowa language alive,” there are only 100 fluent Kiowa speakers, and Modina Waters has created a bilingual book for children.

To promote language use, they have a language nest initiative, where people are encouraged to speak Kiowa at home. The Kiowa Kids Language Resource Page includes links to three different dictionaries, a list of words useful for the home, and large-font vocabulary to cut out and use as labels in the home. (Note that the Kiowa Dictionary says that it “is the exclusive domain of Kiowa families.”)

sbuusaɫ sqʷuʔalikʷ dxʷʔal ti dxʷləšucid – 2

23 April 2013

Among the talks at the Fourth Annual Lushootseed Language Conference on Saturday was “Teaching Language Use” by Zalmai ʔəswəli Zahir, who has been teaching Lushootseed (lut) since 1989.

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:

  1. Define the room or area where the language nest will be located, discussing the issue with all family members.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Language Successfully Revived?

28 January 2011

The field of language revitalization is a new one, and nobody knows to what extent it will be possible to save the huge number of endangered languages we have today. Even whether a language can be brought back from the brink has been an unknown.

Although Hebrew was revitalized in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it had special religious uses still in place and other unique circumstances that facilitated its rebirth.

The language nest programs in Aotearoa (New Zealand) developed by the Māori under the name Kōhanga Reo and then the Hawaiians under the name Pūnana Leo have been hailed as exemplar models for language revitalization programs.

This morning, the Star Advertiser issued an article on Kauanoe Kamana, principal at Ke Kula O Nawahiokalaniopuu elementary school in Hilo.

In the article, it says, “Kamana grew up while Hawaiian was considered a dying language…” implying that Hawaiian has emerged from the endangered language category as a living, vibrant language.

While the article goes on to talk about all the work yet ahead for language revitalization, the optimism in the article cannot be denied. Hawaiian is a beacon of hope for language revitalizationists everywhere!