The first Squamish language WAYK “Walk”

59 minutes and 24 seconds.

[direct download]

1. Technique “Backup

  • Dustin brought Tiffany and her toddler son with him, two regulars from his Vancouver Squamish language night
  • Squamish Valley is located in the country, about 80 kilometers from Vancouver

2. Technique “Set-up

  • The game took place in a community/rec center
  • He set up a “Lotus
  • He found a great table on site, to play on
  • 7 people total in the game, including Dustin and crew
  • There is a much tighter, more involved community in Squamish Valley, as compared to the city.
  • Dustin muses on how funny it is to need so few tools (a handful of objects) to play WAYK
  • Dustin begin using the color “blue”, in the form of a blue car and a blue pen.

3. Technique “Make me say no…

  • Dustin brings the group quite a ways, and wonders how he did it. Is he getting more skilled at leading the game? Is it because ofTiffany’s help, or the experience in the “lunatic fringe“?

4. Technique “Technique!

  • Dustin is getting more experienced at calling and explaining techniques.
  • Dustin began with “Travels with Peter“, “Copy Cat”, “In Fours“, “Limit“.

5. Technique “Accent

  • Dustin deferred to Shirley’s Squamish Valley “accent“.

6. Technique “the Walk

  • Evan and Dustin had a previous, unrecorded conversation where Evan really hashed with Dustin how to make a really good, “obviously!“, packed “Walk“.
  • A shorter “Walk“, with more stops, is a good “Walk“; less opportunity to lapse into English conversation.

7. Technique “No-grief Debrief

  • The conversation after Dustin’s game turned to the subject of fluent elders, with some really sad stories emerging.

8. Technique “the Drive

  • Dustin is working on a Squamish Language audio tour, going along the road up to Squamish Valley.
  • Willem talks about the positive impact of recording games and debriefs.

9. Technique “No-grief Debrief

  • Evan suggests including Tiffany in a game-leader only debrief.
  • How much time in WAYK is spent playing, vs. debriefs and technique talk?

10. Technique “What would you do differently next time?
11. Technique “Modeling”/”Goal Conversation

  • With Tiffany’s help, Dustin “modeled” the “Make me say no” “goal conversation“.

12. Technique “Most Successful Moment?

  • Dustin describes the whole night as a real success. He’s been wanting to do it for a long time; he feels like language revitalization, now that he’s doing it twice a week, has become a big, successful chunk of his life.

13. Technique “Early Adopters

  • Dustin talks about Everett Rogers’ “Diffusion of Innovations” theory, in terms of the diffusion of WAYK and Squamish conversation through his community, starting with the “early adopters“.
  • Joshua Fishman: “Patience, and Prudence.”

14. Technique “Mine/Yours

  • Dustin begins talking about his Vancouver Squamish conversation night at his house.
  • He had two attendees, Tiffany and Gabe.
  • Because they  had no newbies, they really flew through the game, up to “Make me Say no: Mine/Yours“.

15. Technique “Teach a Teacher

  • Tiffany wants to be able to lead games for her coworkers at the immersion kindergarten school.

16. Technique “Language Hunter

  • “Boredom” is another sign that a player isn’t getting enough experience “language hunting” on their own.

17. Technique “Modeling

  • What you want people to do, you must  “model“, and give them time to try it out with you. We wish it was different, but that just seems to be how people work.

18. Technique “the Walk

  • Dustin plans to revamp his “Walk“, and start out with just a silent “sign language” “Walk“.
  • Dustin is thinking of his “Walk” in terms of three “phases”, of increasing complexity.

19. Technique “Set-up

  • Dustin built a rock pile for his “Walk” players to run across.
  • Mine/Yours” in Squamish requires a unique “Set-up“, because of the variety of possessive pronouns.

20. Technique “Most Successful Moment

  • Dustin has “contracted” different signs for Squamish parts of speech, to play through “Mine/Yours
  • Since he has started doing the nightly classes, Dustin says his abilities have skyrocketed
  • He has begun to be able to just start speaking in some past tense

Written by Evan Gardner



Two thoughts I wanted to share:

One way to respond to boredom, teach the language you have, instead of adding more language. When I started teaching Arabic, I found I could teach What’s That? and Make me say Yes easily, but Make me say No was hard. That means that I wasn’t fluent enough in the language to do that part without effort. Teaching that part is good practice, without adding new language complexity to the mix before I’m really ready.

I believe our heavy focus on nouns in language learning is actually a reflection of our culture’s idea of how we exist in the Universe. We believe in the distinct and separate Self, interacting with other distinct objects, all of which can be labeled. We believe we can name all things, even though the Universe is infinite while language is finite. See for more on this idea.


I absolutely agree. Setting up and running games *is* “language hunting”, because it exercises all the core skills. Running games until your hands start moving on your own really allows you to start thinking in “meta” and strategizing around the craft of “language hunting” itself.

I agree about the nouns issue; for some reason folks think the key to learning a foreign language comes down to nouns, and if they can just memorize enough nouns, they’ll be home free. When it’s the opposite; they need fluidity with wielding language structure, not nouns, and adding nouns before then just confuses everything.

I keep getting recommendations to read Charles Eisenstein’s book!

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