December 15, 2008

Ojibwe via interactive TV

Ojibwe by ITV:  Bena school delivers classes to Deer River, RemerAs high school students arrive in Andrew Jackson’s classroom for Ojibwe language classes each afternoon in Bena, students miles away in Deer River and Remer also meet for Jackson’s classes.

This fall, Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School started delivering two Ojibwe classes via interactive television to students at Deer River High School and Northland High School.
And:During the two classes at Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School, Jackson and the students in his classroom can see and hear the students in Deer River and Remer on a television. The TV screen is split, with the Remer classroom on top and the Deer River classroom on bottom.

A second television in Jackson’s classroom reflects the sights and sounds of his classroom–the same sights and sounds transmitted to televisions in the two classrooms in Deer River and Remer.

Jackson sends handouts and assignments to students in Deer River and Remer by e-mail, and the high schools send the students’ completed assignments back to Jackson.

Lushootseed in public schools

Teaching Indian languages preserves heritage, tooIn Washington, tribes have formed partnerships with school districts and the state to reach tribal and nontribal kids in public schools. As of the 2006-07 school year, 14 instructors were certified by tribes to teach language in the public schools. Tribes work with school districts to fit language classes into the school day.

"It's a priority," said principal Teresa Iyall-Williams at Tulalip Elementary. Language instruction boosts native students' achievement, she said. "It increases engagement when they are able to see themselves in the curriculum."

Non-Indian students benefit, too: At Port Angeles High School in Clallam County, where the student body is about 97 percent nonnative, Lower Elwha Klallam language instructor Jamie Valadez has since 1999 taught Klallam as one of the elective languages any student can take. Her classes are made up not only of students from Lower Elwha and other tribes but nonnative teens curious to learn.

"It is just something they are interested in and enjoy, they are fascinated with learning about the native culture," Valadez said.

Learning another language also hones her students' knowledge of English grammar and syntax, which they use to decode and build sentences in Klallam.

December 03, 2008

iRez Language Pal debuts

Language Learning Gets More High-TechThornton Media, Inc., a Indian-owned firm based in Banning Calif, plans to launch two new Native language learning products at the 2008 National Indian Education Association Conference, held October 23-26 in Seattle, Wash.

The first is a hand-held language teacher called the iRez Language Pal. The device is much like Phraselator, a hand-held device developed by Voxtec to help troops serving in the Middle East translate Arabic words to English. It records and translates audio and video files and stores language via a flash memory card, holding up to 85,000 phrases and words.

Thornton Media adapted the product for Native language instruction and marketed it to tribes for about three years. But the $3,300 price tag limited accessibility. It decided to develop a more affordable product.

Offered at a quarter of the cost, iRez Language Pal is smaller and more advanced. It comes with a half dozen new features, like crossword puzzles, flashcards and a car tutor system.

University offers Cherokee course

Cherokee Language to be offered at Rogers State UniversityBeginning in the spring semester, Rogers State University will offer Cherokee language courses on its Pryor campus.

Cherokee I will begin in January at the start of the spring 2009 semester and Cherokee II will be offered in the fall. The university plans to continue the course rotation each year. The Cherokee language courses are open to both degree seeking and non-degree seeking students. Students can take the course as part of the minor in Native American Studies or to fulfill a general education requirement.

“We are located in the Cherokee Nation, so it is only natural that we offer Cherokee language classes,” said Dr. Hugh Foley, associate professor and coordinator of Native American Studies at RSU. “This is part of our continued development of American Indian Studies at RSU.”