Mentor-Apprentice Language Learning Program

-Vicky Metallic

Having worked with the McGill CAN-8 linguistics team throughout the summer, I had the privilege of meeting summer language students and working closely with the CAN-8 development team. My role was to reach out to community members to create interest in CAN-8 and at the same time identify areas of interest regarding the use of the language. What was found was that those who expressed the desire to learn, wanted to do so, so that they can either have conversations in the language with either their parents or grandparents, and if they had young children, to have the ability to pass the language on to their young ones. These discussions were brought back to the language team, and the idea to incorporate an additional language learning method, called the “Master Apprentice Language Learning Program”, was introduced. The idea is to have CAN-8 and the Master Apprentice program work in conjunction with each other. Language learners would have access to the CAN-8 content, use it to learn basic nouns, verbs, sentence structure, and short dialogue, and use that time to prepare for their language immersion session with their Master Apprentice partner. The language learner can return to CAN-8 to practice and review what they have learned in between their immersion sessions.

Pilot Run and Beyond…

It has been said and discussed many times that there is a desire in the community to create new speakers. There are currently a number of people who still speak fluently and who still speak it daily. Speakers can play a significant role in reviving the language here in Listuguj. To test this idea, I decided to present and pilot this project with a small group of interested individuals. Invitations were sent to Chief and Council, as well as to a few selected language students, as they had already declared or demonstrated an interest in learning the language. Four council members, a spouse, two students showed up, and two community members showed up. Of the nine people present, two individuals (a husband and wife) strongly grasped the concept and with minimal resources, continued to put forth the required effort to immerse themselves in the language for approximately 1 hour each day. The result, just after 2 weeks, was an increase in comprehension and speaking ability.

The Master-Apprentice program is designed so that highly motivated teams consisting of a speaker and a learner can go about language teaching/learning on their own, without outside help from experts. The teaching and learning is done through immersion: the team members commit themselves to spending a number of hours a week together, speaking primarily in the language. On average, participants will spend between 5 – 10 hours a week together in their homes and/or out in the community. A launch of an official program has been approved pending funding.

Want to get involved?
Email Vicky Metallic for more information!

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