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Macro-scale features of school-based language revitalization programs

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Title: Macro-scale features of school-based language revitalization programs
Issue Date: 02 Mar 2013
Description: Twenty years ago Joshua Fishman published Reversing Language Shift, perhaps the most cited work in language shift and revitalization studies. Fishman’s work has a strong emphasis on intergenerational transmission of the language at home to create new first language speakers; his model for Reversing Language Shift (RLS) is based on a Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (GIDS), the eight stages of which indicate language vitality. For Fishman the crucial starting point is the home and the intergenerational language transmission that occurs there. A growing body of literature has described the attempts of numerous groups undertaking language revitalization initiatives under widely varying circumstances and with different levels of success. Among these studies the two most discussed programs are the language revitalization initiatives of the Hawaiians and the Navajo Nation. In describing the Hawaiian experience, Wilson and Kawai’ae’a (2007) draw an explicit contrast between the goals and methods of the Hawaiian and Navajo programs and that of Fishman’s model: ‘While Fishman (1991) has focused on the home as the crucial structure in reestablishing a living language system, we, like the Navajo, have found that contemporary children who speak Hawaiian in the home and then enter state compulsory education through English lose Hawaiian. Our College has thus focused initial Hawaiian language revitalization on developing Hawaiian medium educational structures and systems that can develop, protect, nurture and enrich young adult and child fluency in Hawaiian along with the crucial disposition to use Hawaiian with Hawaiian-speaking peers’ (Wilson & Kawai’ae’a 2007, p. 38, emphasis added). This paper hopes to contribute to LR theory by discussing features associated with what Wilson and Kamanā (2006) label the Hawaiian Medium Education model. Because of its emphasis on schooling and structures, I will refer to this method as a macro-scale approach. This paper hopes to contribute to the elaboration of Language Revitalization theory by describing four macro-scale features characteristic of a school-based approach. These factors are: an emphasis on domain-creation, a priority on school as the initial focus of effort, the importance of second-language users, and an emphasis on intragenerational use of the language as well as intergenerational home transmission. After discussing these four features I will examine them in other language revitalization contexts in order to emphasize the impact of local factors in determining the effectiveness of LR initiatives.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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