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My Nakota/Stoney (Isga) language classes

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Title: My Nakota/Stoney (Isga) language classes
Issue Date: 12 Mar 2015
Description: I have been a language activist and language teacher in my community for over 20 years. Even though I am a speaker, I never thought I had a deep understanding of my Isga language, the way that many of my Elders do. But after taking the Community Linguist Certificate program at CILLDI, I am using what I learned about linguistics to gain a deeper understanding about the language. I used to be afraid to talk in front of certain speakers because I didn’t pronounce things the same way as them or I used different words from them, but now I understand that the Isga language is changing, from the Elders, to my generation, to the kids in my class. This doesn’t mean that the language is dying. It’s how we know that the language is still alive. It is okay to invent new words. It’s even okay to use slang and translate song lyrics into Isga.

In this presentation, I will describe some of the activities I use with my middle-school students in Nakota language classes. The language we use in the classroom doesn’t come from a book. I can teach students useful expressions and what certain things mean even if I don’t write things down and even if their relatives speak a little differently. The language can take it. My goal is to make them “Jedi warriors” in the language and to help them learn to figure out things on their own when they hear their relatives talking Nakota.

I also work on a language documentation project in my community. We are building a dictionary where we include everyone’s way of pronouncing words. We are also trying to include morphemes and stems in our dictionary, not just whole words. Learners won’t ever be able to figure out the language if they can’t see the patterns inside the words. Before the CLC, I never saw inside a word, but now I always look.

We are having CILLDI courses in our community now, and many other people from our language program are earning their CLCs. When we all learn together, it is more powerful.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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