Fairy Killing or Linguistics Terminology?

As part of the Summer Language Intensive we took part in an excellent training in archiving practices (see Rachel Sprouse and Talia London’s blogs for more info). During this training, the local team decided on how to label the items in their archive; in other words, what “metadata” to attach to the items. My attention… Read more »

Mind Meadows

“Mind meadows” are an adaptation of Technique: Meadow brought to us by Justin Slocum-Bailey of Indwelling Language.  “Imagine you’re on an island,” our leader starts. The room fills with smiles and muffled laughs; being smack dab in the middle of the Bering Sea, it’s not hard to imagine such a far-fetched situation. “You’re on an… Read more »

Relationship Dynamics in Language Learning

I have been thinking about the relationship between a language learner and an “informant”, who may be a native speaker, a fluent speaker, or just someone more proficient than the learner. Here on St. Paul Island, local language team members have been improving their fluency by “language hunting” with some of the elders who either… Read more »

Birds of St. Paul Island

This year the WAYK Summer Language Intensive is taking place on St. Paul Island, Alaska (Tanax̂ Amix̂ in Unangam Tunuu), nicknamed the “Galapagos of the North”, a name true to the beauty and diversity of the flora and fauna here. St. Paul Island is a small island in the Bering Sea off the western coast… Read more »

Learning a Language While “Low on Spoons”

If you read many of the WAYK blog posts, you may notice that language learning is a dynamic process that includes dozens of learning techniques, process tools, and juggling short-term and long-term planning. A day in the life of a summer language intensive is packed with scheduling, language hunting, taking care of administrative tasks, cleaning… Read more »

Language Hunting vs. Language Documentation

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been learning how to “hunt” language. When I first heard what people meant by “hunt” in WAYK-speak, I wondered: is this what I learnt to call “elicitation” in my classes on linguistic field methods at SOAS (my alma mater)? I’ve decided that the answer is: not exactly, but… Read more »

WAYK Terms & Linguistic Terms

In this post, I would like to explore some of the terminology used in WAYK versus that which is used in academic linguistics. This isn’t necessarily to put one up and disparage another but just to look at the different approaches each group of terminology uses. In general, I would say that academic language tends… Read more »

Why Do We “Hunt” Language?

Why do we “hunt” language? I asked Evan why we use “hunting” as a primary metaphor for the Where Are Your Keys approach to language learning. We use the word a lot, and it’s a pretty loaded term (pun intended). In WAYK, language hunting is an activity that you do as a learner with a… Read more »

WAYK and Community Organizing

They say that for the person with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. A few years ago I was formally introduced to community organizing, and yes, now I do see it as an answer to many conundrums. What about language revitalization? There are so many different approaches to it, including academic degrees and… Read more »

Reinventing “Languagization”

One of the things that has struck me so far about this summer has been the “organization” of the team. That word alone doesn’t quite capture what I mean; maybe a better one would be “organizational culture”, a term I’m not that familiar with but seems to do the job. It’s something that has interested… Read more »

Latest
  • Meet WAYK’s 2017 Summer Team

    This year, we are delighted to expand the WAYK team for the 2017 Summer Intensive on St. Paul Island! Thanks to the support of the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, the Aleut Foundation, the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, and the Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association we’ve been able to include sponsored positions for six… Read more »

  • Guest Post: Nate’s Summer Language Intensive Experience

    Aang! Amilaayam Tunuu ilan Nathaniel asax̂takuq. Unangam Tunuu ilan Tanĝaaĝix̂ asax̂takuq. I am from Anchorage, Alaska but I live in Atka, Alaska. I go to Yakov E. Netsvetov School. I have always wanted to talk with my elders in Unangax̂. I was told about the Atka Summer Intensive by my Godmother, Crystal Dushkin. She has… Read more »

  • Guest Post: Timothy’s Summer Language Intensive Experience

    My name is Timothy and I am 15 years old. I was born in Anchorage, Alaska and I was raised in Atka. I go to Yakov Netsvetov School and I am in 10th grade. When I heard about the 2016 Summer Intensive, I was interested in joining because I hear elders in our village speak… Read more »

  • Guest Post: Junior’s Summer Language Intensive Experience

    Aang! My name is Junior and I’m from Atka, Alaska. I go to school at Yakov E. Netsvetov School. The reason why I was interested in this Summer Language Intensive is because my language (Niiĝuĝim Tunuu) is dying and I want to keep it going. The activities I liked from this summer were the icebreakers… Read more »

  • WAYK Summer Schedule (Updated!)

    It can be hard to imagine what a language revitalization summer looks like, but working to strengthen a language is a full-time endeavor. Here’s an updated look at what to expect from the WAYK Summer Intensive Schedule in 2017. As with any program centered around language learning, it’s essential that we have daily contact with… Read more »

  • Call for WAYK 2017 Interns!

    This summer, we are very lucky to again be able to offer at least three WAYK internship opportunities. These positions are sponsored by our host community (St. Paul Island) in partnership with ACSPI, APIA, and a number of other regional organizations. Participating in a WAYK summer project is one of the best ways to be… Read more »

  • WAYK Summer Intern Expectations: 2017 Update

    What you can expect as an intern: You will learn how to use WAYK. One of the main purposes of the WAYK Summer Intensive is to provide a comprehensive training in WAYK skills, something that is difficult to demonstrate or even explain in a week-long workshop or a few language lessons. WAYK interns will learn all… Read more »

  • Announcing WAYK’s 2017 Summer Intensive: St. Paul Island, Alaska!

    After months of preliminary planning with our host community and organizations, WAYK is excited to announce the details of our 2017 Summer Intensive. This summer, the WAYK team will be returning to St. Paul Island, Alaska! In 2017, we’ll continue to work with Unangam Tunuu (also known as Aleut), an Eskimo-Aleut language with a small… Read more »

  • The Danger of Putting Endangered Languages on a “Shelf”

    What does it mean to revitalize a language? What does it mean to secure its existence for the next generation of speakers? What does this look like and why is it important? As a Native person who is deeply concerned about the future of my heritage language, Tewa, these are the types of questions I… Read more »

  • There Is No Why

    David Edwards has worked with WAYK at several summer revitalization programs. He works as a software engineer in New York City and spends most of his time pulling language from unsuspecting passersby. Last year, I spent a few months working in Washington D.C. with a coworker who spoke fluent French. I spoke no French at… Read more »

  • Technique: Spare the Fairies

    Learning another language is tough—new sounds that our mouths are not used to pronouncing, unfamiliar words, and grammar structures that just don’t feel normal. It is completely natural to want an explanation or a translation for all the new concepts and patterns in our first language. Just tell me what it means! If the word… Read more »

  • Robyn’s Chinuk Wawa Language Adventure 2.2

    I’m happy to report that I finally hit one of my milestone conversations in chinuk wawa! I can make, and explain how to make, one of my favourite desserts–rice krispie treats–entirely in chinuk! Hooray! So why this is a milestone? Last summer Casey and I did a lot of cooking in chinuk and many dinnertime… Read more »

  • Guest Post: Teaching Students How to Hunt

    As I explained the concept and procedure of a “Bucket Brigade” to twenty-four slightly sleepy sophomores, I became nervous. They seemed nervous, lost, anxious. What if this lesson, which would be their first true foray into WAYK…failed? I pushed on though, remembering the valuable WAYK TQ of “How Fascinating!”—if this lesson failed, I would simply… Read more »

  • Report from the Road: Northway, January 2016

    Following our three week visit to Fairbanks this past January, the WAYK team continued our work with Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program by traveling to the village of Northway, AK for one week. WAYK first traveled to this part of the interior in November of 2014 to present a workshop at the Interior Alaska Campus… Read more »

  • Technique: Let It Go!

    Before I tell you about the WAYK Technique Let It Go, I am going to talk about what a Technique is. A Technique is a tool or strategy we use to help us, mostly with learning language, but with other things beyond language too. A Technique usually has a hand sign that goes with it,… Read more »

  • Why We Use Sign Language

    Perhaps one of the most common questions I have had about Where Are Your Keys is about Sign Language and why we use it so much for language learning. Some people look at WAYK and assume that all we’re doing is adding hand signs to vocabulary in another language and then going around in a… Read more »

  • How It’s “Biin” So Far

    At the time I’m writing this post, it’s nearing the halfway point of my internship with WAYK and my summer in the community of Atka, Alaska. As the days go by, they only seem to pass ever more quickly. But new experiences have been plentiful, just as has my acquisition of knowledge regarding the WAYK… Read more »

  • Report From the Road: Fairbanks, January 2016

    The WAYK team once again returned to Fairbanks this winter for three weeks of training with speakers and learners of two Athabaskan languages: Gwich’in and Benhti Kenaga’ (Lower Tanana langauge). Our time in Fairbanks was followed by a week-long visit to Northway, AK to work with the local language team on the Upper Tanana language… Read more »

  • Use It Or Lose It

    If you don’t use it you’ll lose it. That age-old adage we hear, especially about language learning, means that if you don’t speak the languages you know you will forget them. This has happened to me many times. Growing up in Canada, taking French was mandatory for me in school and I took it all… Read more »

  • Report From The Road: St. Paul, December 2015

    The WAYK team returned to St. Paul, Alaska for our first follow up visit after the 2015 Summer Intensive, which focused on the St. Paul and St. George dialects of Unangam Tunuu. Our visits to St. Paul are part of a larger Unangam Tunuu project, sponsered by APIA (the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association) and funded… Read more »