Archive for the ‘Blackfoot (bla)’ Category

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.

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Finding the Words

10 May 2012

CBC recently ran a fourteen-part series on languages in southern Alberta. Called “Finding the Words,” the audio broadcasts cover languages such as Blackfoot (bla), Tsuu T’ina or Sarcee (srs) and Stoney (sto).

Topics include why languages are falling silent, how native language use correlates to lower suicide rates, and three- and four-year-olds who have begun responding in Blackfoot after being taught by elder Beverly Hungry Wolf in a preschool program.

Teachers looking for budgets

19 May 2007

The US education system is complex. Education is the responsibility of individual states, and with 50 states, that means a wide variation in how language revitalization programs are handled both because of state language policy as well as budget availability. Nevertheless, there is a national Department of Education and funding is provided from time to time for national educational policies. Additionally, the Administration for Native Americans provides funding for projects.

The most successful method of teaching a language is considered to be immersion, where only the language being taught is used in the classroom. Setting up an immersion program for an endangered language not only requires establishing a curriculum, but often creating textbooks as well, costly ventures that states may not be willing or able to fund.

In the “Treasure State” of Montana, it was hoped that the state would provide money to fund immersion programs for three languages, Gros Ventre, Salish and Blackfeet (Blackfoot). The bill did not even pass out of committee, however, as noted in the Billings Gazette article Tribal-language teaching struggles. (Salish perhaps refers to what the Ethnologue refers to as Kalispel-Pend D’oreille.)

Last year, the national government stepped up to the plate and passed the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act (text / PDF of bill) to provide funding for immersion programs. Fort Belknap, home of the Gros Ventre and the Assiniboine (language: Assiniboine) tribes, has applied for a grant under that act. Perhaps this funding will provide the budgets educators need.

The Native Languages of the Americas website offers some glossaries of Gross Ventre, and a dictionary is underway as shown on the legacy site for the “Plains Center“. Gros Ventre and Assiniboine (noted as Nakota/Nakoda) classes are available from Fort Belknap College. A small glossary of Salish words with sound files is available from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes site. The Native Languages of the Americas website offers language links including a few short glossaries and one to The Blackfoot Dictionary of Stems, Roots, and Affixes.