Looking For a Nanny: Working on the Tlingit Language

From Ishmael Hope’s blog. This is exactly how we are going to revive our threatened native languages. I can imagine that toddlers and preschoolers going through such a program together could form a cohort, and go on to either some sort of tribal school or grow up together homeschooled/tribeschooled.

“The plan I have in mind has long been used in Europe by families who wish to teach their children a foreign language which will be of value to the child later in life. Suppose they wish the child to learn French. They hire a ‘nanny’ who is a native speaker of that foreign language. Her job is to take care of the child and to speak nothing but French to the child. It’s as simple as that: the child learns French. No training in language teaching methods, no second language materials needed, just natural language acquisition. The same thing can be made to work for the native language programs in areas where the children no longer speak the language.

“My suggestions is this: Choose people, especially older people, who have raised their own families and who now have time on their hands. They would be hired to take care of groups of five or six pre-school children whose parents wish them to participate in the program, for five days a week, four hours a day, speaking to them in nothing but their native language. These children should ideally start about the time they start speaking English, say between one and two years of age, and continue up to kindergarten. This way they could be learning their native language naturally at the same time they are learning English, thus growing up truly bilingual.

Definitely read the rest!


About Vince

I am a Tlingit, born and raised in Tlingit Country, and a proud member of the Tlingit Nation.
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