Teaching Indigenous Languages  

Effective Language Education Practices

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Effective Language Education Practices and Native Language Survival is the Proceedings of the Ninth Annual International Native American Language Issues (NALI) Institute co-sponsored by the NALI Board of Executors and the Montana Association for Bilingual Education and held in Billings, Montana, June 8 & 9, 1989. This book and the Ninth Annual International Native American Language Issues (NALI) Institute were made possible by the efforts of a number of people. Steve and Rose Chesarek, NALI Institute co-chair and then president of the Montana Association for Bilingual Education (MA BE) respectively, are to be especially commended along with the other Institute co-chair, Jon Reyhner. Numerous other people in Montana and Oklahoma helped make the Institute a success. The other MABE executive board members (Louise Stump, vice-president, Jerry Brown, secretary, and Marlene Walking Bear, treasurer) the NALI Board of Executors (Shirley Brown, Harlene Green, Doris Beleele, Patricia Locke, Carl Downing, and Glenda Barrett), the staff of the Montana Office of Public Instruction (Bob Parsley, Angela Branz-Spall, and Lynn Hinch), and the regional representative of Interface Education Network (Dick Littlebear) are especially to be noted.

All the contributors to this book, plus the many other workshop presenters, and of course the many Native and non-Native Institute participants are to be thanked for making the Ninth Annual International Native American Language Issues Institute a success.

The printing of this book was done for the Eastern Montana College Indian Bilingual Teacher Training Program under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. However, the contents of this book do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government or Eastern Montana College.


The contributors to Effective Language Education Practices and Native Language Survival reflect the strong support ancestral languages have among Native people today. Dick Littlebear's Keynote Address describes the importance of Native languages to Native Americans and the effort that needs to be made to maintain them. James Crawford describes the major threat to Native languages embodied in the "English Only" movement, and documents how historically the United States has allowed language freedom.

In chapters three and four, Canadian educators describe efforts by Canadian natives to put their languages into standard written formats and to use Native languages with their children. In chapters five and six, William Leap and Sonia Manuel-Dupont describe English dialects spoken and written by Indian students and how teachers can help students master standard spoken and written English.

Chapter seven contains a description of a model bilingual program utilizing Navajo, as well as English, as a language of instruction throughout the elementary and high school years in a tribally controlled community school at Rock Point on the Navajo Nation in the United States. In chapter eight, Rangi Nicholson tells about his experiences with adult immersion language nests for restoring the Maori language to the first inhabitants of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

In chapter nine and ten, professors at Eastern Montana College and Northern Michigan University describe ways to help Native American students read better while in chapter eleven, David Davison describes how knowledge of language differences can help Native Americans learn mathematics better and easier.

The chapters in this book contain descriptions of only a few of the many promising Native language programs going on today in New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and other countries. Dick Littlebear in his Keynote Address mentions others. The New Zealand and Hawaiian immersion language nests for pre-school children are a particularly promising avenue to restoration and maintenance of Native languages. More of these promising programs will be described at the Tenth Annual International Native Language Issues Institute to be held in Oklahoma in 1990.

It is hoped that this book in a small way will add to the growing support for a multilingual, multicultural World where Native languages are respected, encouraged, and taught.

Jon Reyhner
Assistant Professor
Eastern Montana College

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