The St. Paul Summer Language Intensive TeamMy name is Teresa Baker, I’m from the Pribilof Islands and I’m going to share with you a bit of my 2015 Summer Language Intensive experience.  For about 3 years now I’ve been working on our language in school, out of school, throughout the summer, and at work. Over a period of time I’ve watched fluent speakers laid to rest and the language gradually begin to fall asleep even more. I’ve gone through a heck of an episode and quite the experience doing my service revitalizing Unangam Tunuu.

My practical knowledge wouldn’t have been made possible without the funding of entities like the Central Bering Sea Fisherman’s Association, the Aleut Corporation, the Tanadagusix Corporation, the City of St. Paul, the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island Tribal Government, and more. I say practical knowledge because what everyone doesn’t see is the work behind the scenes. And with all honesty, they supported us but it wouldn’t have been possible without Where Are Your Keys. The people in St. Paul don’t see that the “practical knowledge” of reaching milestone one was actually gained through a lot of trial and tribulation from our team. Milestone one is being able to give an introduction to who you are and where you live in our language. As any hard-working cook knows, “It takes a whole afternoon to prepare a good meal that feeds many, but it only takes a few minutes to eat it.”

Where Are Your Keys is a very organized method of learning and teaching others how to be able to teach the target language. For the very first Unangam Tunuu Summer Language Intensive, we used the Where Are Your Keys format of teaching. In that period of time we gathered enough language to create a syllabus for a 1 hour a day Unangam Tunuu class.  With the help of all the people we temporarily recruited for the summer, I saw a significant and instantaneous growth in lessons and games in the target language.

Something that Where Are Your Keys gave to me was their precise and excessive organization. I really enjoyed how everything was hands on and posted onto a bulletin board or wall. It was as if you took a piece or fragment from your second language brain, and laid it out onto the walls around you so that you’re totally immersed in the language.  There were other things I also appreciated about Where Are Your Keys, like the short-term/long-term parking lots for goals that you need to provisionally set aside, as well as the “swim lanes,” which stood out to me because every bit of already gathered language/needed language was posted up on the walls. And even though the walls were coated, I felt at peace with the chaotic amount of paper and sticky notes posted up on the walls.  And somewhere beyond my jotted notes, I felt success in this language revitalization.

Overall I’m very pleased and blessed to have participated in the 2015 Summer Language Intensive. I’m blessed to have been in such a comfortable workplace and surrounded by people who I know were making a great use of my time. I highly recommend working with Where Are Your Keys, and using their method to wake a sleeping language.

Post authored by Teresa.

Written by Evan Gardner