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SSIW model used extensively for indigenous languages

Postby RunTime714 » Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:33 pm

I am so keen on the SSIW model that I'd love to see it become one of the standards for language teaching in places that are trying to preserve ancestral languages. It's really heartbreaking to hear of a generation or two ago when people were sent to english language schools and then either lost, or had to re-learn their own languages. At least now more places are attempting to keep the languages and cultures of their indigenous students alive, but I fear old ineffective methods will result in producing the same non-fluent result that standard French or Spanish classes have always produced.

Nunavut recognizes Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun as official languages while the Northwest Territories promote two cultural and language tracts in their school systems (Dene Kede and Inuuqatigiit). This is both encouraging and linguistically challenging as you might see from this quote:

"Ninety-one percent of communities in the NWT provide Aboriginal language programs. Instructional time averages 120 minutes a week for second language programs . The emphasis in language instruction is on oral traditions in the primary grades, but reading and writing are often introduced in Grades 4 to 6. Overall, nearly two-thirds of students in Kindergarten to Grade 9 have access to Aboriginal second language programs. Additionally, two high schools in Rae-Edzo and Fort Good Hope, offer credit courses in Grade 10 - 12. In communities, 94 percent of students from Kindergarten through Grade 9 have access to Aboriginal language programs and in regional centres, virtually all K - 9 students have access to Aboriginal language programs. Also, in the regional centres, students have the option of enrolling in either an Aboriginal or French second language program, and a few are given the additional choice of English as a Second Language. Each regional centre has a diverse Aboriginal population, and schools are faced with the difficult task of deciding which language(s) to focus on in an academic year." (Bolding added for emphasis)
- (ECE, 2000)

Now I know that there won't be a SSI Inuktitut anytime soon, but I'd love to see this type of framework used, particularly for older students who might be starting from scratch. So my vision for SSIW would be to make its teaching methods so well accepted in standard, popular languages that the proven results would make it copy-catted for small regional languages that SSIW can't reach by itself. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - and I REALLY believe this method works far better than its alternatives.

How many languages has SSIW expanded to now, and have any school systems or language centers contacted anyone for their input?
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Re: SSIW model used extensively for indigenous languages

Postby Aran » Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:24 pm

This is one of our most dearly held dreams too...:-)

We've spent a LOT of time over the last three years trying to understand how to build something that we could adapt into other languages more quickly. The current setup, which has seen materials published in Spanish, Dutch, Cornish and Latin so far, depends on me proofreading the materials, which isn't scalable.

However, we've had some clever coding people getting their teeth into this recently, and within the next three months or so Ifan is going to be able to put some coding time into the first version of a new course generator. If we can get it to work, we hope that it will make a crowd-sourcing approach possible, at which point it would at least be theoretically possible for any language community to generate their own set of SSi courses...:-)

We still need to work out how to build something more suitable for younger children, though. I'm doing some fieldwork on that by spending a morning each week playing around with Spanish in my daughter's school, which has already taught me some very useful stuff. If we can build a valuable package for primary schools, we'll try and make schools here aware of it - and we're in the early stages of what is looking like a very interesting connection with the School of Language and Communication at Cardiff University, where I'll be giving a workshop session in a couple of weeks.

Step by step, but we're determined to get there...:-)
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