I just finished up teaching a class in the PENT program at Brandon. (Program for the Education of Native Teachers.) It’s a great program that brings students down from the far north and gets them into intensive courses for their education degree. The result is teachers with certification to teach in MB, all from aboriginal northern communities.
This was my first time teaching in this system, and my first time meeting lots of people from Northern Manitoba. I thought I’d outline some of what I learned in this course. It may surprise the average person out there, but professors also learn A LOT from their students. It’s probably the only reason I am still teaching, all these years later. I’d be bored to death by now otherwise.
Students in my class were from Swampy Cree, Woods Cree, Saulteaux, Severn Ojibwe, and Dakota communities. Missing were Dene and Inuit representatives, so I obviously didn’t learn much about their situations in MB.
Posted in academia, blackfoot, colonialism, cultural meaning, education, history, language, ojibwa, phonology, plains cree, racial, semantics, Siouan, swampy cree, translation, woods cree
How to Teach when the Teacher isn’t Fluent
By Leanne Hinton
Leanne has been a linguist and educator in the world of extremely endangered languages for a very long time. She’s one of the most respected people in that area, focussing primarily on languages spoken in California. If you’re wondering where YOUR language is going to end up – go to California. Those languages are already there.
Leanne has a lot of useful guidance for teaching in these very challenging situations – situations that a number of my students here are in as well. What do you do when you want to help teach the language but you’re not fluent yourself? What do you do when NO ONE who is fluent is available to teach it?
Some Rare and Radical Ideas for Revitalizing Indigenous Languages
By Richard Littlebear
This is really a good paper. He says a lot of things that people need to hear, but may not like hearing. Sometimes, being truthful is not the same thing as being nice or being popular. Sometimes, it even conflicts with those other things. tâpwêmowin âyiman. Speaking the truth is difficult.
This is the last day of NS260: Issues for Teaching Native Languages. This class covers issues related to who should teach the language and what should be taught.
The slide set ends with some discussion written by Richard Littlebear, a Cheyenne teacher. He’s a very sharp thinker, and really gets at the core of a lot of issues. I met him a number of years ago, when he came to UBC for the Algonquian conference as an invited speaker. He gave an excellent talk, and is really a good spokesperson for a lot of people struggling with these issues.
I’ll put links to his papers up next.
Today, we’re doing some introduction to issues of how to teach languages.
We’re using the dichotomy that Dean Mellow did, between Formal/Functional and Constructional/Emergent models. (Link to article is below).
Additionally, I really do think that understanding that students have different personalities and learning styles is pretty important. To that end, we cover a bit of one model of personality that’s been well-tested in classrooms: the MBTI. We talk a little bit about how the MBTI relates to these dichotomies that Mellow set up. If you search this blog, you’ll find some discussion of work done on comparing MBTI results for Cree learners and general Canadian populations. Useful stuff if you find yourself in front of a classroom of Cree learners, for example.
Posted in education, language, Methodology, ojibwa, orthography, Personality, plains cree, Siouan, swampy cree, translation, woods cree
An Examination of Western Influences on Indigenous Language Teaching
This is a short article on methods of teaching aboriginal languages, written by Dean Mellow (a fellow traveler from the world of formal linguistics to the world of aboriginal language pedagogy).
It has some nice summaries and is a good way to get introduced to some of the issues and people in this field. I’ll be using it in class today (and it’s in the slides put up next).
This slide set finishes up the issues with literacy we were talking about on Friday. It’s largely aimed at issues related to teaching (in the broad sense). There are some case studies of literacy in a number of languages.
I’m also bringing a stack of books and suchlike to class today, so people can get an idea of what is available – out there in the world of print.
I’m interested in the literacy strategies of Paulo Freire, and someone named G.A. Fargo worked on literacy in that perspective for Saulteaux, but the paper is not published anywhere. I’d have loved to cover it in this class.