Thanks so much to SolutionsIQ for hosting us at their training center – a great space and a very supportive partnership.
We had a diverse crowd at our April 1-3 workshop in the Seattle area. Some attendees came with fluency, wanting to learn more how to teach – Scots Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Lushootseed, Latin. Others just came hungry to learn how to learn. And yet others, experienced WAYK players, came to keep pushing their play proficiency up the scale, getting closer to running weekend events themselves, without the need for help from Evan or Willem (me).
This is our goal, and the goal of the WAYK play community – to spread the ability to self-sufficiently maintain the vitality of languages, to diffuse the skill of language hunting far and wide. We (Evan and I) want to make ourselves obsolete as “gurus”, to become just two more experienced players in a thriving community of conversational play and accelerated learning.
We’re always taking player input and improving the WAYK system. WAYK is not one method, but a system for employing anything that works; and we’re constantly generating and receiving new evidence and information concerning “what works”.
In this workshop, I wanted to continue to accelerate the pace at which attendees can bring home applicable language hunting skills. To this end, we started applying technique “Último” almost right away, the idea that there is a series of games in the at different levels that players can set-up and move through. These games are most effective if they happen together in the same space – rather than splitting folks into separate classrooms. The group consensus was that “Último” was a misleading name, and we all rechristened it “Bucket Brigade”. I was very impressed! A perfect technique name; almost no explanation is required, illuminating the concept of working together moving language from a fluent speaker to the rest of the community without hierarchy or ego.
For this workshop we used Chinook Jargon (Chinuk Wawa), the trade creole of the Pacific Northwest, along with PSE (Pidgin Signed English), as a target language to demonstrate the WAYK system. Chinook Jargon is a language with a lot of rich history, with a core of Chinook language (from the Columbia River area) wrapped in French, English, Norwegian, Nootka, and more.
This meant that when we played “Tea with Grandpa”, I needed an assistant. In the past Evan and I have hosted workshops as a pair; we recently decided to start doing separate workshops so that we can fill the tq Comedy Duo gap with a WAYK apprentice who is climbing the proficiency scale and getting close to running their own workshop. We hope to see this accelerate the pace of new players becoming self-sufficient WAYK language hunters. For Redmond, Jay Bazuzi stepped in to fill the gap.
While I sat with the language hunters at the “Tea with Grandpa” table, Jay managed the rest of the workshop – the flow of players, tq no-grief debriefs, and so on. He’s been to several previous workshops, runs his own local language games and “Tea with Grandpa” language hunts, so he was well prepared to start turning his play up a notch. This made it possible for me to focus on being the best Grandpa possible – playing the fluent fool, enjoying conversation with the players, helping them with the language (but not too much), encouraging them by example to apply their techniques of set-up, limit, obviously!, and so on.
“Tea with Grandpa” was such a rich, fun experience for us all, that it has made me consider again how central it is to learning WAYK. If you don’t have a fluent fool for your language night, encouraging the most fluent speaker to “play” that role really enriches the game and the accelerated learning.
I plan to emphasize this role play even more at our language nights and events. It was surprising how earnestly players wanted to hunt language from Grandpa, and how much respect and care Grandpa received as the fluent speaker. So much of language hunting is courtship of your fluent speaker, and showing them sincere care and consideration, enriching the human relationship, rather than just seeing them as an object of your hunt or intellectual pursuit of the language.
Our catering partners, Harmony and Emily, did an excellent job of supporting one of the most difficult elements of WAYK – the food! Many folks are aware of the impact that carb-heavy foods can have on their mental process – resulting in the infamous “food coma”! Vital to a WAYK workshop is good food, vegetables, fruit, protein, and so on. We had several workshop participants remark on how suprised they were what a difference the food made. Do Food is a very important technique! The usual muffins and pastries you see out at workshops are an insidious element in generating fatigue and decelerating the group process. So thanks to the catering team of Harmony and Emily for the 3 days of great breakfasts and lunches.
We shot video of helping Emily, a Scots Gaelic speaker and instructor, with her Scots Gaelic WAYK game, and also of the Lushootseed instructors, Michele, Natosha, and Virginia, setting up their game for when they returned to the classroom. Expect to see that in the next few weeks.
Until then – good hunting!