December 08, 2007

"Teaching Our Way" with pictures

Faint hope for dying languageThe lesson is an attempt to stop the slow but steady demise of Seminole language and culture by "Teaching Our Way."

That's the English translation for Pemayetv Emahakv, the name of the charter school that opened in August on the Brighton Seminole Reservation just northwest of Lake Okeechobee in Glades County.

In its first year, the $10 million, 45,000-square-foot school has become a source of pride among the 600 people living on the reservation. There is a waiting list to enroll, and parents and staff are talking about expanding the school beyond its kindergarten through fifth grades.
How the language program works:The school uses a system for learning native languages called accelerated second language acquisition. University of Montana Professor S. Neyooxet Greymorning, an Arapaho Indian, developed the system.

The method entails pictures instead of written words and learning the language orally before writing it down.

The language classroom at Pemayetv Emahakv, pronounced pee-ma-YEH-da eh-ma-HA-ga, is plastered with photos and cartoons of people sitting, standing, laughing, walking and talking. The images are used for teaching verbs.

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