Joel Shempert hunts Chinuk Wawa from Mary

58 minutes and 17 seconds.

[direct download]

Willem and Joel (a veteran of a Portland WAYK workshop), with Peter and Sara listening, talk over Joel’s experiences that Chinuk Night. Then later, Evan and Willem discuss how the evening of Chinuk Wawa games went.

1. Technique “the Walk”

  • Joel experienced “the Walk” for the first time, and really enjoyed the dynamism of it.

2. Technique “Language Hunters”

  • Ryan (a workshop veteran) led Joel in a two-person game.

3. Technique “Limit”

  • Willem limited the game environment for Joel and Ryan; rather than playing in a messy room, he had them play in an empty hallway.
  • Ryan limited the game objects to just two. This surprised Joel.
  • Joel’s last game, with Mary (as seen in this video), was a much less limited game.

4. Technique “Start Over, Start at the Beginning”

  • Joel relearned this technique at a higher proficiency level, as an overarching principle.
  • Willem relates a martial arts story, about how his proficiency kept increasing, but his fluency kept dropping in relation, making him less competent the more “experienced” he got.
  • Joel wants to learn good comebacks when 7 year old Jackson teases him in Chinuk Wawa.

5. Technique “Language Hunter”

  • Improve your “language hunting” by running simple games, as soon as possible. Don’t let newbies fly ahead in language proficiency, but fall behind in language hunting.

6. Technique “the Walk”

  • After playing with a fellow language hunter, Joel was much more rigorous on “the Walk” in applying limit and sorry, charlie to himself.
  • Willem and Evan are really hoping to see this more: language hunters swapping techniques and experience with other language hunters, independently of Willem of Evan.

7. Technique “Potty Mouth”

  • Evan checked in with Henry, our “fluent fool”, about creative obscenities in Chinuk Wawa.
  • Evan, Willem, and Peter take special pride in their ability to construct exquisitely well-constructed profanities.
  • For whatever reason, the “potty mouth” same conversation is an invigorating accelerator for increasing the volume of language play among many speakers.

8. Technique “Let’s Get This Party Started”
9. Technique “Newbie in the Lunatic Fringe”
10. Technique “Copycat”
11. Technique “Same Conversation: Craig’s List”
12. Technique “Language Hunters”

  • Kirsten, Ryan’s brother, came in, and copycatted like a pro, due to her skills from the same workshop as Ryan.
  • Willem mentions again how Sara learned a lot of language, but not much language hunting.

13. Technique “Teach a Teacher”

  • Evan discusses his efforts to move the culture of the room deeper into WAYK territory, deputizing everyone as collaborators and teachers, no matter how inexperienced.

14. Technique “Speak to Remember, Write to Forget”

  • Some players were concerned about our requests to not write things down, and to not bring notebooks.
  • Every moment you spend writing things down, those are moments you’re not playing WAYK with friends or family (or imaginary friends).
  • Willem offers an opinion the nature of the relationship to a piece of paper on which you’ve written language you “want to remember”. It’s a robot slave! In a bad way, not a cool way.
  • Rather than taking notes on paper, take 3-dimensional, sensory immersive, holographic notes by pushing language into your friends and family, who will act as a living memory bank for your language acquisition.
  • Each “technique” we offer is an experienced-based tool for accelerating language acquisition. All are open for improvement; but you can’t know if they work, or not, unless you use them, and run the experiment on whether they truly accelerate language acquisition.
  • Dismissing techniques out of hand, before really using them for long enough to know whether they work, will prevent you from mastering WAYK.

15. Technique “Dictionary Addiction”

  • Writing things down is a smaller, personal version of dictionary addiction. You’re essentially making your own dictionary.
  • Language is a physical, embodied relationship, between speakers and the world, as experienced through all the senses of smell, taste, hearing, touch, sight, and so on. The symbolic tool of literacy comes a distant second in priority of language acquisition.

16. Technique “the Walk”

  • Peter ran “the Walk” to be as basic as possible.
  • Now Evan doesn’t have to lead “the Walk”, or run the room of game play.

17. Technique “Language Hunters”

  • Evan needs to stop being the “expert” – he’s called over for even the most basic questions.
  • Someone who even knows one thing more than you, can teach you that thing.
  • Willem tells the story about Ryan, one language hunter, teaching Joel, another language hunter and workshop veteran.
  • A language hunter can transmit a huge amount of technique and experience to another experienced language hunter.

18. Technique “Immersion”

  • Willem thinks we need a 2 day immersion weekend, every 3 months, for everyone participating in a WAYK language revitalization program.

19. Technique “Debriefs”

  • Willem believes the debriefs are technique “mumble” for 2 day immersion weekends.

Written by Evan Gardner




We started experimenting with and improving the 2 day workshop format last November; since then we’ve held 4. One in Vancouver, one in Portland, two in San Francisco, and the fifth one will be in Vancouver (the “Save Your Language” conference).


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