December 05, 2012

Language Nest in Yukon First Nations

Yukon First Nations learn new language teaching approach

Language Nest program touts early immersion for preschoolersAboriginal language teachers in the Yukon will soon have a new tool to teach kids First Nation languages.

The Council of Yukon First Nations held workshops in Whitehorse this week, explaining the Language Nest program. The program has been successful in reviving languages in places like New Zealand and Australia, along with other parts of Canada.

In the program, fluent speakers become involved in early childhood education, creating immersion-style learning for children ages one to four.

Sean Smith of the Yukon First Nations Self-Government Secretariat said they hope to identify master speakers and potential apprentices who will eventually work with children from preschool and through their school years.
Below:  "Bessie Cooley, a Tlingit language instructor in Teslin, plans on retiring in a few years. The number of fluent speakers of Yukon's First Nations languages is dwindling, but some hope an early childhood immersion program may change that." (Leonard Linklater/CBC)

December 03, 2012

New Klallam dictionary

Klallam people celebrate new dictionary

By Scott WalkerThe hefty, 983-page book is important for the current generation, Laura Price told the crowd gathered Wednesday in the Port Gamble S’Klallam longhouse.

“It’s important for the ones who have passed on, and it’s important for the ones who are not here yet.”

Indeed, the new Klallam Dictionary—celebrated at the gathering of Klallam people from Elwha, Jamestown and Port Gamble—holds the future of the language. And it holds a lot of history.

Elders, educators and Tribal Council members from Becher Bay, Elwha, Jamestown and Port Gamble worked with University of North Texas professor Timothy Montler for a quarter of a century on this dictionary, which has more than 9,000 entries, a grammatical sketch, numerous indexes, and a wealth of cultural information. The dictionary is among the largest books published by the University of Washington Press.
Klallam dictionary opens window into tribal heritage

A three-decade effort to preserve a native language has resulted in the first-ever dictionary of the language, which previously was only spoken.

By Lynda V. Mapes
It weighs in at nearly six pounds, fills more than 1,000 pages, and represents the work of many hands and hearts.

The Klallam people’s first dictionary for what was always an unwritten language was built syllable-by-syllable, from tapes and spoken words transcribed into a phonetic alphabet.

The work was a race against time: About 100 people spoke Klallam as their first language when he first began learning Klallam in 1978, said Timothy Montler, a University of North Texas linguistics professor, and author of the dictionary. By the time the dictionary was published by the University of Washington Press last September, only two were left.

One of them, Lower Elwha Klallam elder Adeline Smith, 94, was recently working with Montler during one of his twice-a-year visits to the tribe’s reservation, helping to transcribe Klallam stories into written words. Over many years she contributed 12,000 words to the dictionary, by Montler’s count. Some 38 elders in all helped him compile the entries.