April 26, 2013

"Where Are Your Keys?"

Language Revival: Interview with Khelsilem Rivers By: Thipiziwin YoungThree years ago I became aware of a language revival method called “Where Are Your Keys?” This dramatically altered my vision on how to become fluent and how to reverse the decline of my ancestral language. It was especially important given the context of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim—we have half a dozen fluent speakers left in the world. This is a situation many Indigenous communities face as it is predicted 500 of the world’s languages will go extinct in the next 25 years.

The “Where Are Your Keys?” method though focuses on fluency, rapid language acquisition, visual/auditory/kinesthetic learning styles, and incorporating hand-actions/hand-signs as an aid for memory recall. It has developed a pattern language called “techniques” that are simple but complex so that we can teach people how to teach people. “Language revitalization has two main issues. First is we have no new generations of speakers being raised with the language. The second is that we aren’t creating enough new teachers fast enough.” says Where Are Your Keys? Founder Evan Gardner. Where Are Your Keys? has set out to find a way to solve these two issues. I’ve used the techniques and methods for 3 years and achieved considerable success. There is still more work to do, but it’s on the path towards fluency and full blown language reawakening.

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