Learning an indigenous language as a second language must take place among people of different ages, adults, siblings, peers and elders because it provides important feedback. Therefore, teachers need to consider how children will use the language at home and in the community when preparing to teach. A decision to teach greetings for example should be age appropriate and congruent with community norms.
A. Dual language texts promoting relations with elders and grandparents.
A YouTube video that illustrates what a 12-year-old boy can do when he draws on experiences drawn from intergenerational contexts.
B. Oral Stories
Oral stories are best told by resource people from the community. Inviting a resource person into your classroom, however, requires assessing students’ ability to sit quietly and listen to a story in the Indigenous language, preparing your students for listening and following protocols determined by the community. One might prepare students to listen to oral stories in the language by using short audio clips available on websites, podcasts or CD/DVD.
Blackfoot (Four Dialects)
Blackfoot Stories website hosts stories about various topics in audio format.
Cree ( Y dialect)
Louis Says is an Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) series geared at Early Years children. This is the story of Louis, an Aboriginal elder, whose mission in life is to help the people in his community in any way he can. Louis is getting older and it’s getting harder for him to help people on his own. So he decides to recruit Randy, a 10-year-old boy, to help him with his work. Every day Louis gives Randy a task. But there is one problem: Louis mostly speaks Cree and Randy only speaks English. How can Randy help Louis if he can’t understand his instructions? In order for Randy to fully understand Louis’s instructions, he first needs to learn what the Cree words mean.
Louis Riel Institute provides books for children.
Dene storybooks as well as other teaching resources can be accessed and ordered from the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre. Stories appropriate for listening can be accessed in the Dene tab of the First Voices website.
Illustrator and author Julie Flett has developed many Early Years books in several languages suitable for sharing.
Saskatchewan Education has also developed a tool intended to assess Early Years children’s oral language skills. It is available in Dene, Cree, Michif, and Dakota.
Some of these stories can be adapted by older students, so that they create their own endings, or other parts of the story and share it in the Indigenous languages. Classmates would become language detectives by trying to figure out what changed.
C. Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS) developed by Blain Ray in the late 1980’s uses the most commonly used words and phrases in any language in stories and conversations. These procedures are simple and adaptable to many Indigenous languages. You may go to the TPRS website to acquire a more detailed description of the method or access professional development at the Chief Atahm School’s website.
D. Social media sites intended to promote language are good sites to connect with other teachers.
#CreeSimonSays is an adult example of how Cree Word of the Day can be implemented or you may join the Facebook group.
A newsletter to promote and communicate professional learning opportunities available through the Foundation for Endangered Languages Canada.
Pinterest is another good source of visuals, or pictures to complement your lessons. Try searching ….Cree Language Resources or Nehiya… as many terms as you can think of.
Finding a radio station such as CFWE which hosts Cree lessons once or twice a week and MBC which is multilingual and includes Cree, Michif and Dene programming.
Libraries are also a great source of teaching materials, the University of Alberta has developed a page specifically for the purposes of Indigenous Languages.
- Lac La Ronge Indian Band shows how elder’s wisdom pertains to language acquisition. NB: Understanding how attending to all aspects of our being is represented in this video.
- Understanding how attending to all aspects of our being is represented in this video To wake up the Nakoda Language – An NFB production
- The importance of intergenerational relationships in the community provides foundational resources for building language programming. This approach is reflected in resources presented at the First Peoples Website.
This website was developed by the Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers (CASLT) with funding from the Government of Alberta. It provides practical resources for teachers of Indigenous languages as well as links to teacher training programs and contemporary research on Indigenous language teaching and acquisition.
CASLT National Office
101-2197 Riverside Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, K1H 7X3