This is our last week of classes before the Winter Holidays. We were honored to have 2 Fluent Speakers come to visit, they had really good and encouraging things to say to all of us learners. One of the Fluent Speakers also taught us some very fun winter words for us to try: sqʷʕaqʷʕaʔilpm (sled), kłsʕapíkam (hockey), sqʷʕaqʷaxnam (skiing or snowboarding), sy̓iriwaxnm (snowshoe).
Reflecting over the past while, its really amazing to think how much we have really accomplished since September. Time is passing by so quickly, and we have been learning so much. The last update is we are happy to announce we have 3 more students that have come to join us for Captikł 1. We also are expecting one or two more students to join us in the new year.
With that we would like to wish everyone a very happy holidays & Way̓ X̌ast Sputa!
I am happy. The class is learning the sixth story of Captikwl 1 and Xastitkw is teaching the first teaching set. I watched her introduce the sentences and was struck by how much she has improved over the past 3 months. She was making gestures with her hands while she was saying the sentences. “x̌ʷʕaylxʷ kʷis iʔ tinx uł kʕacúpsəs sn̓k̓lip.” Fox grabbed the sinew and tied it to Coyote’s tail. With an eloquent gesture of grabbing something, and tying it around something. We all practice making gestures and I model the technique when I am teaching but is not easy to do for beginner teachers. I am immensely proud.
Today I have a sense of lightness, a sense that we are getting caught up with ourselves. We started with incredibly high expectations and I worried briefly we would not be able to accomplish everything, but little by little we are adding on new elements to our schedule and accomplishing our goals.
St̓aʔqʷálqs and I did a first recording session with a new Elder last week, and she is off right now doing another recording session with him. She also recorded Andrew McGinnis and her Father on Monday, in conversation and has plans to record her father and uncle speaking together. I recorded Andrew McGinnis last week and got some great new stories. Sənpokcin just came in and asked if she could help get the marking caught up. I am so grateful to have all the help. I brought in an electric guitar and a handdrum a while ago, and now and then during breaks someone picks one of them up and makes some noise. Last week X̌atma Sqilxʷ was teaching Qʷʕayqʷʕayax̌n how to do flint knapping during lunch hour. My heart sings.
The First Nations Language Centre at SFU is coordinating the activities of grassroots community partners across BC and academic linguists from SFU, UBC, UNBC, and many other universities in a new project to document, analyse, and revitalize Aboriginal languages. SFU's program is one core support pillar in making the Syilx Language House a reality. We are proud to see our project written up on their website and to be supported by them. You can read the write up by clicking this link.
This is our first full week doing Captikwł 1 and its really working out great. The curriculum style helps us to break the story down into reasonable pieces. We start out with the vocabulary from each set, this helps the class to learn the harder words first. Then we begin learning the story, in 3 sets. It has been really fun and interactive for us teachers and the cohort. What is also helpful is our use of TPR (total physical response), especially when we are working through some of the harder sentences. Through much repetition, the students are able to recite the whole story as well as act it out.
What also makes this perfect is historically for the Syilx people, winter time has been the time to share our stories. We are really doing this in a good way, so its working out in that sense as well. Overall Captikwł has been a good change of pace for all of us.
Last week our class passed an epic waystation. On Wednesday we completed Nsyilxcn 1 with a written exam, oral exams, a community celebration, and a language planning meeting. My heart sang. It was a very full day and a full house and I was proud to see the students speaking their Nsyilxcn presentations with so much confidence and enthusiasm and humour. I filmed the presentations and they were good! We had a great turnout with Chief and Council from OIB, the Chief of PIB, two Elders and an assortment of educators and family members. Our new student joined the class and we will have one more join next week. During the feedback session we asked and answered three questions: What are the best parts of this program? What have we missed? How do you see this being incorporated in your community (and what can you do to help)? I wrote a detailed feedback report with summaries and comments made by participants and guests. I will need to put the N1 film together for community feedback as well as assessment research (and C’aris volunteered to help with the editing).
On Thursday we were back to business as usual, with a dramatic switch—we started Captíkʷł 1. I already feel like Nsyilxcn 1 is far behind us and there is no going back. Mlmltiłpálqʷs and I taught the entire first story, Coyote and Horse, Set 1, Set 2, Set 3, and then a review session of Nsyilxcn 1 lessons. It was so much fun to teach at a slightly higher level—with content! That is the whole point of language—to transmit meaning and content. There was real enthusiasm in the class, and a lot of focus. Students were focusing on each word to get the content and meaning of the story. By the afternoon we were acting out the story, TPR-style, with a lot of laughter and full comprehension. For the last teaching set of the day, Mlmltiłpálqʷs and I led a review session. Remember that constant review is just as important as the original learning. We reviewed the first five lessons from N1, plus several songs. We practiced a funny dialogue, asking and answering more complex sentences from the “physical descriptions” lesson--ha q̓uct anáxʷnəxʷ? lut t̓ə q̓uct inaxʷnəxʷ. ha t̓ət̓q̓álaʔqʷ asx̌íwi̓? is your wife fat? No my wife is not fat, is your husband short?
On Friday we had an amazing teacher training session. We practiced the teaching method and lesson plan for Captíkʷł 1 story, complete with TPR (Total Physical Response) techniques. We are raising the bar and challenging ourselves as teachers to use more of the full teaching commands from Paul Creek’s Direct Acquisition Manual. We are excited to delve into Captíkʷł 1 stories.
This week we are teaching two Captíkʷł 1 stories and I am finalizing the ALI FPCC funding grant proposal.
I was just reminded to take a moment and celebrate. We completed Nsyilxcn 1! And now we are happily settling into our workload. This has to be the most satisfying work on earth. I am so grateful to the Salish School of Spokane for creating this language curriculum which is so cutting edge it almost teaches itself. All that is required is to create a healthy language environment with no distractions and support and a lot of love.