April 21, 2007

Revitalizing Hawaiian, like Cherokee

Hawaiians reintroduce languageHawaiian is taught with a syllabic approach, emphasizing the syllables of the words instead of the individual letters of the alphabet.

“It’s a lot like Cherokee,” said Housman. “We use the same approach in Hawaii. It’s not a true syllabary because there aren’t symbols for each syllable, but we do have clusters of consonants and vowels.”

Housman said the Hawaiian language is taught in the immersion programs, just like other skills pertinent to the culture. First, the kids develop a connection to a concept, and then an understanding of it. Practice is the third level of learning, followed by the creation of something using the newly learned skill, whether it be a craft or a sentence.

Children in the immersion programs are taught so that, to put it in a traditional Hawaiian context, they know the big currents and the little currents.

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