Vanessa, Dustin River’s mentor in Squamish language.

49 minutes and 52 seconds.

[direct download]

We debrief Dustin’s fifth WAYK Squamish language conversation night, that he holds in Vancouver, B.C., with plans to start another in nearby Squamish Valley, B.C.

1. Technique “Accent

  • Gabriel George attends – the grandson of the late Chief Dan George. Dustin speaks about his people, and the relationship of Halkomelem, the language Gabe George’s people, the Tsleil-Waututh ( to Dustin’s.
  • 1923 Indian Act that, among many other impacts, affirmed the separation of the Burrard/Tsleil-Waututh people politically from the Squamish Nation.
  • Chief Dan George was half Squamish, half Tsleil-Waututh, so Gabriel has a lot of Squamish ancestry. He spoke both Squamish and Halkomelem, pretty common for the Burrard Band/Tsleil-Waututh.

2. Technique “Set-up

  • Dustin describes who showed up, and what he started with.
  • The game reached “Make me say yes…“.
  • Dustin describes his technique for bringing everyone up to speed, a combination of “copy-cat“.
  • Tiffany, a very quick player, is chomping at the bit to get to “want/have/give/take”, so Dustin decides to play “one-on-one” with her during his off-time. Evan remarks: “…and the advanced group appears!”.
  • “It’s all a part of the plan…”

3. Technique “Teach the teacher

  • Because of technique “Newbie Sets the Pace“, and the fact that newbies keep showing up, Dustin sees the opportunity to start pairing more advanced players with the newbies to start really training teachers.

4. Technique “the Walk

  • Dustin wants to pack more information into his “Walk“, as his players get more and more fluently proficient.
  • Evan and Dustin discuss options for adding to his “Walk“. “Who sees the x?”  “Let’s cross the street”.
  • There’s no other way to learn to do “the Walk“, other than just doing it.

5. Technique “Most Succesful Moment

  • Seeing Tiffany and Cal stepping up, and really pulling other players through the game.

6. Technique “What would you do differently?

  • Asking Tiffany and Cal to get in the “lunatic fringe“, and not from the “inner circle“, would have helped even more.

7. Technique “Mr. Willem’s Wild Ride – a decelerator

  • Willem often likes to have “gee whiz wow” games with new players, where they learn a huge amount of language quickly, BUT….
  • Going for fluent proficiency too far, while neglecting training in “language hunting” itself (through having players lead “one on ones“, creating their own “set-ups“, etc.), can create “feed me, feed me!” baby bird type players, who want to be spoon-fed.
  • Therefore, have players lead their own games as soon as possible.

8. Technique “One-on-One

  • The power of “one-on-one” games to teach new players to teach, right from the start.

9. Technique “Preaching to the Choir

  • Practice your “big set-up” with people who already know it (“same conversation“!). Even the choir needs practice.

10. Technique “No-grief Debrief

  • Evan encourages Dustin to start debriefing his own players.

11. Technique “Jurassic Park

  • Always have back-ups for your events, in terms of space, assistants, food, because “life will find a way” to try to cancel your night, no matter how much you trust your first plan.

12. Technique “Most Likely to Succeed

  • Dustin speaks about boosting attendance, and reads from Joshua Fishman’s (the man who helped revitalize Hebrew as the official language of Israel) 8 stage process of reversing language revival, very similar in spirit to the WAYK revitalization roadmap.
  • Evan: “Keep it light and fun…get there step by step.”

13. Technique “Same Conversation

  • Dustin speaks about, in the future, as students get more advanced, possibly starting a more advanced “same conversation“, over an activity, like lunch, dinner, bowling, etc.
  • Evan: “Great idea – don’t wait. Start right now!”
  • Dustin: “Having a gathering like this might be the thing that inspires my community’s language teachers and other advanced speakers to come, because they haven’t come to the current weekly language night.”

14. Technique “Whatever works

  • Dustin speaks about starting a local community newspaper, with an article on his WAYK Squamish language revival events.
  • Evan encourages Dustin to start meeting in Squamish Valley (where he wants to start another Squamish language night), just to begin the rhythm of meeting up there, even if he doesn’t have anyone to come to the language night, yet.

Written by Evan Gardner