1,800 Hours to create Intermediate Speakers
The Syilx Language House builds upon years of grassroots revitalization work and creates a unique collaboration between Syilx Nation governments, partner organizations, and community members to support a language house for young adult learners. The activities in the language house are two-fold, addressing the two greatest language needs in our Nation: training new speakers; and documenting and archiving our remaining speakers.
We deliver a four year, 1,800 hour, program using proven curriculum, cutting edge methods and intensive immersion. Our first cohort of 15 adults started in September 2015 and will graduate in June 2019. Students are supported by Bands and employers to attend classes two days a week for FOUR years. We deliver the Nsyilxcn Curriculum developed by the Salish School of Spokane (Paul Creek), and learn by recording and transcribing Elders. The learning is transformational. Beginners are transforming into intermediate speakers and a new generation of teachers.
We record Elders, publish advanced language materials, raise awareness, and lobby for larger cohorts of successful programs across our Syilx Nation.
Speaking assessments are filmed each year and will be shared on YouTube. After 200 hours students transformed from low-beginner to mid-beginner speech; after 1,000 hours they achieved high-beginner/low-intermediate.
Envisioning a Future of Speakers
Imagine a meeting in one of our member communities four years from now —there is an ongoing land title discussion in the court system. Someone is needed who can speak to the land-based messages embedded in our captíkʷł story system in order to prove rights and title within unceded Syilx territory. A young, well-dressed, articulate woman steps up, a recent graduate of the Syilx Language House. She is 25 years old and completed her Bachelor’s degree in Indigenous governance and law while studying in the language house.
She says, “I am able to do this.”
During her time in the Language House she learned to speak Nsyilxcn at a mid-intermediate level, record and transcribe Elders, archive materials, become a language advocate and spokesperson, intimately connected with Syilx story systems and deeply embedded language-based truths.
kʷu kłsqiʔs. We have a dream.
It is our dream that this story will be brought to life with the language tools being taught to our students today.