Integrating linguistic structure, content, and communicative practice into post-secondary Indigenous language curriculum: Now what?




Strang, Burton
Czaykowska-Higgins, Ewa
Aliki, Marinakis
McIvor, Onowa

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4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC), University of Hawai'i at Manoa


As part of comprehensive language revitalization strategies many North American Indigenous communities are partnering with post-secondary institutions to offer language courses and programs. Teaching Indigenous languages shares similar challenges to those facing second language teaching of dominant languages and has led to development of pedagogical models like Master-Apprentice Program (e.g., Hinton 2002) and Accelerated Second Language Learning (Greymorning, 2005, 2010), both created to support revitalization of Indigenous North American languages. Despite the increase in pedagogical models for teaching Indigenous languages, little research has focused directly on post-secondary Indigenous language curriculum (cf. Miyashita and Chatsis 2013, Suina 2004, Leap 1991). In this paper, we contribute to Indigenous Second Language research by outlining factors taken into consideration and responses developed by a language curriculum team in British Columbia, Canada for Indigenous Language Revitalization programs offered in community-post-secondary institution partnerships. We consider how Indigenous language curriculum can integrate language structures, appropriate cultural and language content, and communicative practice through task-based and focus-on-form techniques. The programs under discussion are composed of Certificate and Bachelor's degrees in Indigenous Language Revitalization, including 12 language-learning courses spanning four years of post-secondary training. To develop Indigenous language curriculum we considered: 1) curriculum needing to be useable for various languages and dialects within different language families; 2) instructors with varying degrees of formal training in teaching methods; 3) students with significantly different previous exposure to their Indigenous language; 4) needing to respond to local ways of knowing, teaching, and being (Western Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Basic Education, 2000); 5) varying accessibility of language documentation; 6) university expectations for language teaching and outcomes; 7) requests from instructors and community-partners for clear curriculum and defined outcomes. In our paper we describe the process undertaken in curriculum development, illustrating the main features of the resulting Indigenous Language Teachers' Package, which includes a Teachers' Guide, Scope and Sequence Samples, Class Activities Samples and Feedback-Assessment Samples. We demonstrate how we responded to the varying factors and needs by developing course-shells allowing for a task-based (Nunan 1989) communicative curriculum. This type of curriculum provides teachers the possibility of flexibly integrating grammatical structures through focus-on-form techniques (e.g., Nassaji 2000) into their classrooms while using different types of language documentation. Finally, we consider the extent to which our Teachers' Package has been useful for teachers, and how it has served and will serve as a basis for further curriculum development and its application. References Adley-Santa Maria, B. (1997). White Mountain Apache language: Issues in language shift, textbook development, and Native speaker-university collaboration. In Reyhner, J. (ed) Teaching Indigenous Languages. Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University. Pp. 129-143. Greymorning, S. (2005). Weaving the fibre for instruction and acquisition of North American Indigenous languages. In Te toi roa, Indigenous excellence: WIPCE Official Handbook (pp. 191). Hamilton, Aotearoa-New Zealand: The 7th World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education. Greymorning, S. (2010). ASLA training workshop. SENĆOŦEN Department, Adult Education Centre, WSÁNEĆ, BC, June 7–9. Hinton, L. (2002) How to keep your language alive: A commonsense approach to one- on-one language learning. Berkeley, CA: Heyday Books. Leap, William. (1991). Pathways and barriers to Indian language literacy-building on the Northern Ute Reservation. Anthropology & Education Quarterly. (22)1, 21-41 Miyashita, M. and A. Chatsis (2013) Collaborative development of Blackfoot language courses. LD&C 7. 302-330. Nassaji, H. (2000). Towards integrating form-focused instruction and communicative interaction in the second language classroom: Some pedagogical possibilities. The Modern Language Journal (84)2:241-250. Nunan, M. (1989). Designing tasks for the communicative classroom. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge, University Press. Suina, Joseph. (2004). Native language teachers in a struggle for language and cultural survival. Anthropology & Education Quarterly (35)3. 281-302. Western Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Basic Education. (2000). The common curriculum framework for Aboriginal language and culture programs: Kindergarten to grade 12. Edmonton, AB: Author.


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