I began learning my Native language, Lingít, about three years ago. At some point I came to the idea that I would like to eventually teach the language. However, I imagined doing so in a very distant future after many years of dedicated study of the language and time with fluent Lingít elders, when I could finally be considered a fluent speaker of Lingít. Instead, on January 31st, 2015, I celebrated a year of teaching a community Lingít language class in Anchorage with the help of my friend Nae Brown.
I am still very far from being fluent in my language; however the great thing about WAYK is that it turns language learners into teachers. This is even more significant with indigenous languages, where time is critical in revitalizing the language before the last remaining fluent speaking elders pass away. We can’t wait to teach our language, we must begin to speak it now while our elders are with us.
Last month a dozen of us learners of the Lingít language celebrated the anniversary of the ‘Lingít Language Learners Group’ with a potluck and playing the card game ‘Ast’eixh Nagú!’ (Go Fish!). For a year the group has meet almost every Friday, even including holidays, at 6 pm for an hour of Lingít language learning using WAYK. It is a free community class that is open to everyone. Usually the number of participants is modest, around 7, and consists of regular attendees and curious individuals wanting to check it out for a class.
The group has been an amazing teaching/learning experience for me. At times, particularly in the summer months, attendance has dropped to just a couple people and on one occasion none. It can be quite discouraging to have no one show up but I felt it was important to continue on even if only a couple showed up each week. I view learning my Lingít language as a fulfilling lifelong journey and hope to teach and share it with others as much as possible along the way.
Post and photo provided by Kyle Worl. Kyle is a WAYK player and Lingít learner and teacher who holds weekly community language classes using WAYK at the University of Alaska Anchorage.