Robyn Clocking Language Time in the WAYK Kitchen

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 conversations turned into chinuk sprints. Eating and cooking are two great topics for language learning and since these were topics we discussed regularly I’m certain Evan and Sky designed our assessments (based on an ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview or OPI) to address this. Without killing any of my chinuk language fairies, suffice it to say there was a big section of the interview about food. While I didn’t have any particular goal conversations in mind when I began learning chinuk, after I did my first assessment I definitely used food as a target. In particular, I knew that I wanted to be able to talk about making a meal or treat in chinuk so that I could answer one of the questions better. In my very first assessment I explained how to make rice krispie treats in English to demonstrate that I understood what the question was asking me even though I couldn’t answer in chinuk. I can still remember Sky saying, “I thought this was a chinuk language test!” Um…oops?! After that experience it feels like a pretty major milestone that I can officially make rice krispie treats speaking entirely in chinuk! I think Sky would be proud! And I can’t wait to take my next assessment at the 30-hour mark and be able to answer the question in chinuk this time.

Why rice krispie treats? Mainly because they’re delicious. Just kidding! I mean yes, they are delicious, but I actually wanted totalk about making rice krispie treats for a very specific reason, which is because it is a TQ: Same Conversation between Susanna and I, since we make them at least once a week. Last summer everyone in the WAYK house got a bit addicted to rice krispie treats and whenever we had a particularly rough day or stressful week it became a bit of a joke that we “needed” some rice krispie treats. Susanna and I also established an inside joke about rice krispie treats and our mutual love of sprinkles, so every time we tried to see just how many sprinkles it was possible to add to the rice krispie treats without the rest of our WAYK housemates getting upset. Making rice krispie treats is an excellent same conversation for a few reasons. We obviously both like rice krispie treats and enjoy making them so it’s something we can do over and over again without getting bored. It’s also a very simple process with a finite number of steps. Since Susanna and I make rice krispie treats so frequently we have it down to a science and in English can make them in about 15 minutes. Even though it’s a simple process there is also plenty of opportunity to ratchet up the conversation and talk about new things. For instance, when we made rice krispie treats in chinuk I had to measure out 6 cups of rice krispies and it became clear very quickly that I could only count to 3 in chinuk. So we spent some time reviewing the numbers. Next time, we’ll be able to focus on something else. The one challenge of this recipe is that while it is a simple process it is time sensitive and certain steps require a lot of attention, for instance when browning the butter the language almost had to come to a halt to make sure we could add the marshmallows at the right time so the butter didn’t burn. Luckily after that we can very easily jump back to regular conversation. And while the rice krispie treats cool we have plenty of time to chat while we do the dishes and clean up before cutting our treats into squares.

The best part, however, about establishing making rice krispie treats as a same conversation and reaching this milestone in chinuk is that now I have another excuse to request that we make rice krispie treats. I just want to practice speaking chinuk! #itsforthelanguage

Post authored by Robyn.

Written by Evan Gardner