Hello, my name is Nathaniel. I am from Atka, Alaska. For those who don’t know where Atka is located, Atka is a very remote island westward on the Aleutian chain. I’m 16 years old and I currently live in Anchorage, Alaska. This fall I will be starting my senior year of high school.

I have participated in the Niiĝuĝim Tunuu summer language intensives for the past three summers. The first two summers on Atka in 2016 and 2017, and then this summer 2018 in Anchorage, as an APICDA intern. One of my favorite activities I like doing in the language project is “hunting”. Hunting is one of the first steps to creating a lesson in the language. In summary, when you are hunting language from a fluent speaker you are trying to expand your vocabulary, and at the same time trying to understand the context of what is being said in the language, while staying immersed in the language. WAYK tries to avoid verbal translation in another language, they prefer to use drawings, props, and acting. It helps because you are using sentences instead of just using words from flashcards. The flashcards didn’t teach you how to put words into sentences and how to have a proper conversation.

This summer I have improved my facilitation skills, my communication skills, and my teaching skills.

Facilitating skills are important because speaking loudly and clearly so everyone can hear is vital to any presentation. Eye contact and stage presence (reducing fidgeting in front of a crowd) are also main principles for presenting to large audiences. I have improved my communications skills over this summer by asking good follow up questions helping to clarify the context of what participants are trying to state. I think it is important to show people what needs to be done and then assign people to specific tasks.



This summer I have been a learner as well as a teacher. Although I’m not fluent yet, I have taught at least 15-20 lessons this summer. I usually teach one or two lessons a day to participants ages 11-50. Through teaching I have learned how important repetition is to setting language firmly into their mind. I have also learned that teaching makes you a better learner. This summer I have progressed in my Unangam Tunuu fluency as well as my English fluency.

Post authored by Nate.

Written by Evan Gardner